RWJF Program Awards $300K Grant to Conduct Research on ‘Dedicated Education Unit’ Model
New Brunswick, New Jersey – The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Evaluating Innovations in Nursing Education (EIN) program today announced a $299,985 grant to the University of Massachusetts—Boston, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, to conduct a two-year evaluation of the school’s use of the “Dedicated Education Unit Model” for providing clinical education to nursing students.
The United States faces an escalating shortage of nurses, driven in part by an aging population, a shortage of nurse faculty, and insufficient capacity in schools of nursing across the nation to accommodate qualified applicants. The grant is one of four awards made at the end of 2009 by the EIN program to support evaluation of promising innovations to address the consequences of the nurse faculty shortage.
The college’s “Partnership for Dedicated Education Unit Development and Quality” (PDQ) is a new model for providing quality clinical education to nursing students, and the grant will allow for a formal evaluation of the program, with emphasis on generating evidence of its effectiveness and guidelines for replication, if the findings are positive.
PDQ was launched in 2007 by the college, in collaboration with Partners Healthcare in Boston. PDQ relies on dedicated hospital units in which staff nurses and nursing faculty take on new educational roles to deliver more efficient and effective clinical instruction to nursing students. The approach differs from the more traditional method of providing clinical education for nursing students in which a nursing school faculty member leaves the classroom to directly instruct nursing students in the clinical setting. In the DEU, a staff nurse assumes responsibility for clinical instruction of one or two students, working with them as a team to provide care to assigned patients. Nursing school faculty members supervise the DEU staff nurses, assist them in developing their roles as clinical instructors, and collaborate with them in evaluating students. The approach promises to provide students with a richer clinical experience and to increase the nursing school’s class size as staff nurses become new clinical instructors while college faculty remain in the classroom or take on new responsibilities.
“We’re very proud of the work we’re doing with PDQ,” says Dr. JoAnn Mulready-Shick, Undergraduate Nursing Program Director and Clinical Assistant Professor of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “Through this 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. And if the evaluation warrants, we hope to use it as a tool to introduce other nursing schools to the model.”
The Evaluating Innovations in Nursing Education program is a national initiative to fund evaluations of ongoing interventions that have demonstrated promise to expand teaching capacity and/or promote faculty recruitment and retention in schools of nursing. Directed by the EIN National Program Office at Rutgers University, the program's ultimate goal is to increase the number of nursing school graduates by fostering replication of successful strategies.
“The PDQ approach shows great promise to increase efficiency in providing quality clinical education based on a new level of collaboration between nursing schools and health care delivery organizations,” said Michael Yedidia, PhD, director of the EIN program office, “We look forward to evidence of its effectiveness produced by the evaluation.”
EIN awarded four grants in December 2009, for up to $300,000 each. Grants fund evaluation projects lasting up to 24 months, to be conducted by independent evaluators. EIN will award a second round of up to ten grants of similar duration and size in September 2010.
Other December 2009 grants went to schools of nursing at:
- The University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, to evaluate an accelerated BSN program relying upon advanced technology, innovative course scheduling, and a combination of on-campus and remote sites for classroom and clinical education.
- The University of Portland (Oregon), to evaluate a another type of Dedicated Education Unit model, in which hospital staff nurses assume a significant teaching role, with guidance from faculty from the college of nursing.
- The University of New Mexico Health College of Nursing, to evaluate a web-based teaching application called The Neighborhood. The evaluation will focus on faculty work-life, faculty recruitment and retention, and student graduation rates.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change.
About RWJF’s Programs in Nursing
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is committed to addressing the nursing shortage by:
- building nurse leadership capacity
- improving the work environment for nurses and faculty
- finding innovative ways to educate more nurses
- promoting awareness of their central role in the health care delivery system among policy-makers and the general public.
In support of this commitment, Evaluating Innovations in Nursing Education (EIN) funds evaluations of interventions that expand teaching capacity or promote faculty recruitment and retention in nursing schools. The EIN program’s ultimate goal is to increase the numbers of nursing school graduates.