DEU Overview and History | University of Portland

DEU Overview and History

The Dedicated Education Unit (DEU) clinical education model was first implemented at the University of Portland School of Nursing & Health Innovations with clinical partners as an innovative method to increase student enrollment, better use existing resources, support professional development of nurses, and increase nurse satisfaction. The collaboration was in response to the impending nursing shortage driven in part by a shortage of nursing faculty needed to educate the nation’s next generation of nurses (Moscato et al., 2007).

With Providence Portland Medical Center, Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, and the Veterans Affairs Portland Health Care System, the University of Portland School of Nursing & Health Innovations opened its first DEU in 2003. A partnership of nurse executives, staff nurses, and faculty transformed patient care units into environments of support for nursing students and staff nurses while continuing the critical work of providing quality care to acutely ill adults.

Currently, the University of Portland School of Nursing & Health Innovations collaborates with its clinical partners to operate DEUs with community health, acute care, post-acute care, school-based nursing, ambulatory care, and mental health settings. Our clinical partners include:

The Portland DEU model has received national interest from nursing education programs and health care facilities that want to implement DEUs at their site. With relatively little professional development, nursing programs that vary in curricular structure, State Board of Nursing requirements, and procedures for placing students in clinical sites have replicated the Portland DEU model. The DEU model has been adapted to various health care settings across the nation including medical/surgical, pediatrics, oncology, neurology, mental health, child and adolescent mental health, orthopedics, hospice, and post-acute care. 

The DEU is best practice for clinical learning and has been demonstrated to be an effective, robust model. Please see below for an example of our conceptual model in an acute care setting.


Interested in learning more about DEUs? Click here for more information!