Campus News

UB, Sisters Hospital earn national award for educating future nurses in maternal-newborn care

From left: UB nursing professor Deborah Raines, Sisters Hospital nurse Tracey Zimmerman and nursing student Stephanie Rodriguez in the maternal-newborn unit at Sisters of Charity Hospital. Photo: Carrie Sette-Camara


Published November 1, 2017

“The DEU model for undergraduate clinical education creates a win-win for students and nursing staff.”
Mary E. Dillon, vice president of patient care services
Sisters of Charity Hospital

The School of Nursing and Catholic Health System’s Sisters of Charity Hospital have been awarded the 2017 American Association of Colleges of Nursing Exemplary Academic-Practice Partnership Award.

The highly competitive award, which recognizes universities and health organizations for innovative programs that prepare nursing students for their careers, is presented to three partnerships each year.

UB and Sisters Hospital were honored for their collaboration on labor and delivery, neonatal intensive care (NICU) and maternal-newborn dedicated education units (DEU), a program that turns to nurses to act as instructors to provide students with clinical experience and promote the professional growth of the nurse.

Created in 2015, the labor-and-delivery and NICU DEUs between UB and Sisters were the first in Buffalo to focus on the specialty. The program has led to eight students finding employment in New York as labor and delivery, NICU and maternal-newborn nurses, areas that face shortages as the current workforce readies for retirement.

“The DEU experience socializes the student to the full scope of the nurses’ role,” says Deborah A. Raines, associate professor in the School of Nursing.

“The collaboration among the nurses and the students promotes quality patient care and the professional development of both the students and the practicing nurses. These experiences better prepare the student for transition to RN roles in these areas following graduation.”

The award was presented on Monday at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Academic Nursing Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.

“Recognition of our collaborative partnership is a testament to our commitment to advancing nursing education through these vital student clinical experiences,” says Marsha Lewis, professor and dean of the School of Nursing.

A ‘win-win’ model of education for both students and nurses

The UB labor-and-delivery, NICU and maternal-newborn DEUs are among 18 clinical partnerships formed with units within five major hospital systems and health care facilities in Buffalo.

Every UB nursing student takes part in the DEU program throughout their junior and senior years. Each DEU is offered as a for-credit course that includes a rotation in hospital units ranging from telemetry to mental health.

Junior-level students spend four, 12-hour days in the maternal-newborn and labor-and-delivery DEUs. Students partner with a nurse to care for a group of patients and learn to administer medications and comfort measures, and teach parents about the newborn and their growing family. They also assist with fetal monitoring, circumcisions and breastfeeding. For many students, the DEU provides their first live-birth experience.

Seniors have the opportunity to spend an entire semester in either the NICU or labor-and-delivery DEUs.

Students in the NICU are partnered with a nurse, learn to care for pregnant women and infants with complications, and provide care for newborns on ventilators or with central lines and tube feedings. In the labor-and-delivery DEU, students triage patients, care for patients with complications of pregnancy and manage nursing care during the birth process.

Senior-level students also support and educate the family and work as members of the interprofessional health care team.

The partnership also has led to academic research published in Neonatal Network: The Journal of Neonatal Nursing and Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing by Sisters Hospital nurses and UB undergraduate students, a rare occurrence for both.

They also created the “Safe Sleep Baby” video to educate parents and family and community caregivers about safe positions and environments for sleeping infants. The video aims to decrease infant mortality due to accidental strangulation and suffocation.

“The DEU model for undergraduate clinical education creates a win-win for students and nursing staff,” says Mary E. Dillon, vice president of patient care services at Sisters Hospital.

“Students are challenged to think critically at a higher level and the staff nurses benefit from students sharing the latest developments and research in clinical practice. When you teach you learn.”

Other recipients of the 2017 Exemplary Academic-Practice Partnership Award include the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene and The Queen’s Health Systems, and the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and Fairview Health Services.