Phoenix Children’s and Arizona State University’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation announced an expansion of their strategic partnership with the development of pre-licensure and graduate-level programs that enhance the preparation of Arizona’s future pediatric nurses.

Leaders at both institutions are part of a newly developed joint operating committee formed to enhance education, research efforts and train the next generation of pediatric clinical talent. To that end, ASU’s Edson College and Phoenix Children’s created a Dedicated Education Unit (DEU) for pre-licensure nursing students and collaborated on the development of the Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and Certificate Program Curriculum for graduate-level nursing students.

“Our primary goal is to develop high quality, nationally renowned pediatric nursing programs that offer students increased time at the pediatric patient bedside,” said Julie Bowman, Chief Nursing Officer at Phoenix Children’s. “A DEU like the one at Phoenix Children’s is one of the first of its kind in pediatrics, and this program helps develop ‘workforce ready’ nurses who are confident in their ability to work with young patients.”

Edson College’s new DEU program, which includes a pediatric elective with course credits for pre-licensure nursing students interested in pediatric care, gives students a total of 72 focused hours of time at the patient bedside at Phoenix Children’s. The DEU sets students up for success by pairing them with a dedicated Phoenix Children’s nurse preceptor whom students shadow for six full nursing shifts. These focused hours give students an established clinical skillset before applying for a highly sought-after opportunity in Phoenix Children’s “Transition to Practice/TTP” program, which affords nurses more than 100 additional hours of time at the pediatric bedside. The DEU also gives hospital staff early insight into prospective nurses who may wish to join the Phoenix Children’s team.

“The major value is seeing undergraduate students beginning to think like full-time pediatric nurses,” said Judy Karshmer, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation Dean. “Not only do they learn all the technical skills required, like inserting IVs and patient charting, they learn how to be a critical part of the care team—working with patients, physicians, relaying information to young patients and empathizing with parents on their hardest days.”

The Edson College Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner DNP and Certificate Program curriculum are some of the newest and most highly focused programs in graduate-level nursing education offered in the U.S.

As part of the program, students complete a major intervention project where they identify an issue in patient care, conduct ongoing research and implement a solution within a department. Their insights and research outcomes become a crucial part of Phoenix Children’s care model. Equally, students have an opportunity to learn nurse management and improve pediatric care on a broad scale in one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S.

“We’re excited about these new nursing programs for two major reasons,” said Dean Karshmer. “The first is social embeddedness, and how these programs are a direct response to the community’s needs. The second is our relationship with Phoenix Children’s and how we are able to make this work by having an equal, focused investment in our state’s future nurses.”