Benefits, Challenges and Considerations to Academic-Practice Partnerships in Implementing and Utilizing a Dedicated Education Unit (DEU) Model of Clinical Education

Monday, 9 November 2015

Stacen A. Keating, PhD, RN
Nursing, NYU College of Nursing, Cranbury, NJ, USA
Tami L. Jakubowski, DNP, RN, CPNP-PC, CSN
School of Nursing, Gwynedd Mercy University, Gwynedd Valley, PA, USA



The purpose of this presentation is to discuss the benefits, challenges, and costs to academic-practice partnerships in implementing and utilizing a Dedicated Education Unit (DEU) model of clinical education.  


A systematic literature search was conducted using bibliographic databases, academic journals, and ancestry searching.  Additional sources of information were found on The American Association of Colleges of Nursing Academic Practice Partnership and University of Portland Dedicated Education Unit databases.  Search terms included dedicated education unit, academic-clinical partnerships, and academic practice partnership.  The approach involved data analysis using a systematic iterative process.   The authors went back and forth to analyze and interpret text and to categorize data.  Notes were compiled regarding insights gathered during data collection.  Data and notes were reviewed to answer the specific IR question: What is known about the benefits, challenges and costs associated with academic-practice partnerships that utilize a DEU for undergraduate clinical nursing education?  From the data, major themes and categories were developed regarding the benefits, challenges, and costs to academic-practice partnerships in implementing and utilizing a DEU model of clinical education.   

Results:   Significant benefits, challenges, and costs of implementing a DEU to academic-practice partnerships were identified in this integrative review.  Benefits included enhanced communication between the academic school of nursing and clinical agency, an environment with more productive and efficient use of learning time, and increased student exposure to skills and clinical practice without increasing clinical hours.  In addition, students learned teamwork, collaboration, critical thinking, and independent problem solving.  This arrangement may impact future nursing student enrollment capacity and clinical capacity.   


This integrative review showed that there are a number of benefits, challenges, and costs related to implementing DEU’s.  Overall satisfaction appears high with the DEU model both in terms of student, staff nurse and faculty perceptions. The DEU has may have the potential to increase nursing faculty capacity and could be a possible factor in efforts to enhance the ability of schools of nursing to increase student enrollment as long as state regulations are taken into account. More collaborative research is needed especially in the area of cost implications to fully understand the impact of the DEU on the academic practice partnership.