In an innovative educational process, Doylestown Hospital recently partnered with Gwynedd Mercy University to offer nursing students unprecedented access to the knowledge and skills of experienced nurses.
Unlike nursing school clinical rotations, where one instructor teaches a group of eight students in a hospital setting, the Dedicated Education Unit model pairs each senior-level student with a single nurse for six weeks in a particular nursing unit.
Following the DEU model, four nurses in the Heart Institute's Cardiac Interventional Unit (IVU) became clinical instructors for four Gwynedd Mercy students who will graduate in May. The students started on March 14 and finished the program on April 27. This was Doylestown Hospital's first time providing the DEU experience.
"This is hands-on learning that really prepares the students to be nurses," said Marcy Mikalaitis, clinical manager of the Cardiovascular ICU and Cardiac IVU. "This gives them the confidence when they go on their own to say, 'I can do this'."
Students benefited from the one-on-one interaction during two weekly 12-hour shifts. Under the guidance of their nurse instructor, they helped with patient care while getting a real taste of life on an acute care nursing floor.
"There is such a difference between learning something from a book and actively doing it," said student Lindsey Glenn, who worked alongside Jill Mysza, RN.
"We're very excited they came here," said Jill. "I loved seeing the students' enthusiasm. This is an awesome opportunity for them - they'll be ready to be nurses."
In addition to honing clinical skills like physical assessments and interpreting heart rhythms, the veteran nurses provided instruction in critical thinking, time management and prioritizing patient needs.
"It is great having somebody with so much knowledge who is willing to put in the time and energy to teach things you don't necessarily learn as a nursing student," said Kaylyn Santangelo, who was paired with Jen Malriat, RN.
During one of her shifts, Joanne Friel, RN showed Tracy Swan how to navigate the electronic medical record.
"I love teaching," said Joanne. "For me it's like going back to my roots."
Jeanne Bridgwater, RN was the fourth instructor on the Interventional Unit.
"I wish we had this kind of program when we were in nursing school," said Jeanne, who added the program "taught me how to teach." She is now interested in possibly going back to school herself.
"I'm so thankful for Jeanne. She's super smart," said student Lori Hager. "This program is getting out the jitters in a safe, nonjudgmental environment. It's a great opportunity that has enhanced my knowledge and boosted my confidence."
Doylestown Hospital is the only local suburban hospital providing the DEU experience, said Marcy. "A few of the university schools of nursing in Philadelphia utilize a modified version, but they do not provide the teaching at the bedside or the evaluating that the nurses in the IVU were doing."
As the program wrapped up, she was sure of its success.
"It's a win-win for everybody," said Marcy.
About Doylestown Health
Doylestown Health is a comprehensive system of inpatient, outpatient and community services connected to meet the health and wellness needs of all members of the community. Our independent and nonprofit system is dedicated to healthcare excellence from childbirth to end-of-life care.
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