Dominican Univ, RUSH Hospital Oak Park partner for nursing program
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Dominican Univ, RUSH Hospital Oak Park partner for nursing program

Jun 23, 2024

As the medical field continues to see a shortage of nurses, locally, Dominican University and RUSH Oak Park Hospital announce a program that is to offer hands-on learning and a way to add more nurses to the field.

In a Dominican University news release, officials stated that starting in January, the first group of junior nursing students will join RUSH’s new Dedicated Education Unit as part of the students’ clinical training.

The release states the nursing students will be guided by RUSH Oak Park clinical instructors, and will “immerse themselves in the role of a nurse” as they work with patients in the hospital’s 39-bed, medical-surgical unit three days a week for a rotation from eight to 16 weeks.

The students will be able to assess patients, provide patient care and administer medications,” the release states.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the U.S. is forecast to experience a shortage registered nurses “that is expected to intensify as Baby Boomers age and the need for health care grows.”

The association states that adding to the issue is that nursing schools nationwide struggle to expand their capacity in an effort to meet the increasing demand for care.

With the Dominican and RUSH hospital partnership, nursing students from the River Forest university will have their own dedicated workspace separate from the nurse’s station, the release states. They will also have access to the hospital’s simulation lab where the students will be able to practice procedures like administering IV lines and using cardiac monitors.

“Our students want to work in small institutions where they can make a difference and have an impact — and RUSH Oak Park is that institution,” Dr. Tamara Bland, dean of Dominican University’s Borra College of Health Sciences, stated in the release.

Bland originated the proposal of the DEU for nursing students, according to the release.

“RUSH Oak Park is a more intimate, community hospital and the students will be able to see the impact they are having,” she stated.

Officials explained in the release that the DEU model of nursing education partners schools and medical facilities to provide students with necessary clinical nursing training and enhanced learning from educators and clinical service providers within their community.

Also as part of the DEU, students get to act as peer educators. When juniors become seniors, they will partner with a new group of junior nursing students, each working side-by-side with the same patients as the seniors take on a leadership role, according to the release.

“Juniors will be able to take what they are learning in class and in the labs and bring it to the clinic,” Bland explained. “The senior student, who has already completed those courses and has a higher level of understanding and knowledge, will be able to provide peer-to-peer feedback with the instructor.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are some 3.1 million nurses in this country. They work mostly in general medical and surgical hospitals, in doctors’ offices, as part of home health service providers, at outpatient clinics and in nursing care facilities.

“Partnering with Dominican University expands our capacity to educate the nurses of tomorrow,” Angela Cooper, chief nursing officer at RUSH Oak Park, stated in the release. “It helps ensure we have well-educated, well-trained and skilled nurses to meet the growing health care needs of the communities we serve.”

According to the release, Dominican University leaders hope the partnership will not only attract more nursing students, but also additional faculty from the hospital’s pool of clinical educators.

“While the DEU creates this wonderful opportunity for our students, it also creates an academic setting and professional pathway for all educators involved in it to grow and flourish,” said Bland, the university’s health sciences dean.