NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — As part of the undergraduate nursing program, the faculty at The College of New Rochelle has developed clinical experiences for junior and senior students on Dedicated Education Units at Westchester Medical Center, Valhalla, N.Y., and Montefiore Medical Center’s Einstein/Weiler campus, Bronx.
Piloted in 2011 at Westchester and expanded to Montefiore in 2012, six groups of students have completed clinical experiences at the two facilities’ DEUs as part of the med/surg third- and fourth-year courses.
“The facility preceptors and students develop a special working relationship, and in that relationship, preceptors offer clinical guidance and leadership, while students become immersed in the nursing practice role and continue to develop clinical, assessment, critical thinking and organizational skills, and blossom in their professional development,” said Deborah Hunt, RN, PhD, assistant professor of nursing at CNR.
While in the DEU program, Juan C. Hernandez said he witnessed the dedication of nurses on the unit, enhanced his clinical skills and became more confident and empowered in the process.
“I saw team collaboration in action when I attended interdisciplinary meetings with my preceptor, and I also saw how this collaboration enhanced patient care,” said Hernandez, who graduated this spring.
The program has served as a recruitment opportunity, and several CNR students have been interviewed for possible employment as a result of the DEU experience, according to Hunt.
Always present on the unit, CNR faculty help direct and support students’ learning experiences by conducting pre- and post-conferences; facilitating students’ off-unit experiences, such as ones to the OR, ED and CCU; maintaining ongoing collaboration with clinical nurse preceptors and nurse managers; grading clinical assignments; and completing formal evaluations with input from clinical preceptors.
“Our faculty is also working with staff on evidence-based projects and providing educational offerings to unit RNs, so we’ve developed fuller relationships with one another,” said Mary Alice Donius, RN, EdD, dean and associate professor at CNR.
Preceptors who volunteer for the role and are selected by their managers must complete the hospital-based preceptor program. They attend the CNR orientation, where they learn about the school, course objectives and the preceptor and student roles.
“The nurse preceptors were proud to be part of the students’ professional development, and they developed their own knowledge and skills as well,” said Judy Nebel, RN, MA, NE-BC, administrative nurse manager, med/surg, Montefiore, who set up a dual preceptor arrangement so students successfully worked with two preceptors over the semester.
Carriann Grexa-Allen, RN, DNP, CIC, nurse manager, surgical-trauma unit, Westchester, said nurses on the unit sought out the students to provide additional worthwhile clinical experiences and developed strong, close working relationships by nature of the extended time they spent together.
At Westchester, CNR clinical instructors Mary F. Milani, RN, CAGS, MS, FNP, and Susan Wilson, RN, MSN, ANP, implemented and also teach in the DEU program.
Before developing DEUs at the two facilities, Donius visited two nursing programs in Buffalo. It was there that she learned the importance of developing buy-in from nursing administration, management and staff.
“It is critical for sustaining the DEU program that we have everyone’s support, and we’ve been able to accomplish this goal,” Donius said.
CNR faculty plans to expand the DEUs to other local facilities.