Access of acute care sites for clinical education of nursing students is becoming a real problem for nursing schools around the world. Nursing schools provide clinical experiences in a variety of different ways. Some nursing schools offer group clinical experiences, where a number of students, usually six to ten, are grouped with one faculty on one unit in an acute care setting. Others offer a preceptored model where one student is paired with one registered nurse (RN) on an acute care unit and still others are offered an experience on a dedicated education unit (DEU) where they work side by side with RN’s, techs and their faculty support person. All of these experiences provide the student nurse an opportunity to complete nursing assessments and skills with real patients. The purpose of this study was to compare and contrast the clinical learning experiences of prelicensure baccalaureate nursing students, utilizing the CLES-T evaluation tool. An examination of literature supports the preceptored clinical experience and the formation of a DEU as the most common and preferred clinical setting for the student to gain the most confidence, improve communication skills and develop critical thinking skills while in the acute care setting. The proposed nursing research study will provide insight into the development of a DEU in one of our local hospitals and answer the question; what is the best way to educate nursing students in the acute care setting?
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