DEU students

The DEU Program and History at the CNHS

Dedicated Education Units were implemented in January 2008 between the College of Nursing and Health Science's Undergraduate Nursing Program and two agency partners, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), after two years of planning, and learning about DEUs from the University of Portland in Oregon and Flinders University, Australia.

Program Goals

This clinical education partnership fosters a collaborative relationship, allowing nursing education to inform nursing practice and patient care delivery. In turn, nursing practice informs nursing education, enhancing professional practice and nursing education in an ever-changing health care environment.

This academic–service partnership supports the college's vision: to improve the health of diverse urban populations through the integration of teaching, targeted research, service, practice, and health policy in partnership with others.

Program Benefits

Students participating in the partnership benefit from:

  • Clinical rotations with practicing nurses providing clinical expertise and instruction
  • Clinical instruction by the same staff nurses on the same units for their adult health or pediatric clinical experiences and senior preceptorships
  • Access to patient care assistant positions during nursing school
  • Access to potential positions as new professional nurses following graduation
  • Utilization of the college’s Center for Clinical Education and Research (CCER) for additional simulation experience during the senior preceptorship
  • Leadership opportunities in conducting and presenting quality improvement teaching projects and presentations on DEUs at our partnering hospitals

Program Statistics

In January 2008, we began the DEU program with 18 students. In 2011, more than 200 students participated in DEU experiences.

The DEU helps us graduate a significant number of racially and ethnically diverse baccalaureate-prepared nurses (approximately 40%) in Massachusetts by utilizing staff nurses as our clinical instructors.


In 2009, CNHS received a $300,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Evaluating Innovations in Nursing Education (EIN) grant to conduct a two-year rigorous evaluation research study of the school’s use of the “Dedicated Education Unit” Model for providing clinical education to nursing students. The college’s study, Project PDQ: Partnering for DEU Development and Quality, examines retention, satisfaction, and productivity rates, teaching capacity, costs and benefits, and education outcomes.

The first students to graduate under the DEU model who were hired by the institutions they served in as student nurses report decreased transition time to professional practice, thus producing more experienced nurses faster, and likely reducing institutional costs. At the same time, staff nurses on dedicated education units report returning to school to pursue graduate nursing education.

DEU Faculty and Administrators

The CNHS DEU Team in the DEU Partnership includes JoAnn Mulready-Shick, EdD, RN, CNE, Undergraduate Nursing Program Director, and Clinical Faculty Coordinators Kathleen Kafel, MS, RN, Lisa Caravaggio, MS, RN, Martin Lantieri, RN, BSN, and Esther Seibold, PhD, RN.

Student Perspective

“This amazing opportunity has allowed me to grow as a student nurse in the hospital that I can only dream of working in someday. My critical thinking skills were sharpened and my performance on exams were strengthened by this experience. I have developed more confidence in my abilities for upcoming clinical rotations.” - DEU student

Faculty Perspective

“We’re very proud of the work we’re doing with PDQ. Through the RWJF grant we will benefit from a rigorous, independent evaluation of an educational innovation. We expect to learn a lot, and intend to put what we learn to good use with our agency partners. If the evaluation warrants, we hope to use it as a tool to introduce other nursing schools to the model.” - JoAnn Mulready-Shick, EdD, RN, CNE, Undergraduate Nursing Program Director and Clinical Assistant Professor