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UMMS to begin inaugural full class for Nursing Academy of Clinical Essentials

Following a successful pilot of its Academy of Clinical Essentials (ACE) initiative which puts a cohort of nursing students at the bedside under instruction of an experienced hospital-based nurse, the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) is preparing to welcome its first full class of nursing students as the initiative expands to more locations across Maryland.

This academic-practice partnership model reimagines the preparation of student nurses and their transition to hospital practice and creates an integrated and innovative care delivery model.

ACE cohorts are assigned to hospital units for the duration of their clinical course, aligning with skills that nursing students are taught in their first or second year of nursing school. For one 12-hour shift per week, small cohorts of four nursing students each are paired with an UMMS-funded clinical nurse who serves as their instructor and who is experienced with the patient population of the specific unit, team members assigned there, policies, protocols, procedures and equipment.

Students enrolled in medical-surgical nursing for Associate Degree in nursing, Bachelor of Science Nursing and entry-to-practice Clinical Nurse Leader classes are eligible for the program.

During their clinical rotation, the student nurses are embedded in the fabric of care delivery in their unit and are considered an integral part of the care team. Because students and instructors are immersed in specific units for long periods of time, one especially important aspect of the program is the inclusion of clinical instructors in staffing numbers at hospitals.

Early pilots of the model have also shown that instructors benefit greatly from the UMMS ACE, which creates opportunities for experienced nurses who are passionate about teaching to have a diversified role and be more engaged at the hospital.

UMMS piloted ACE, believed to be the first such program in the country, in spring 2022, with seven cohorts of 28 second semester medical/surgical students. An additional 11 students in their first semester fundamental course joined the cohorts at mid-semester and were able to practice basic nursing skills. The cohorts were at the University of Maryland Medical Center (Downtown Campus), the System’s flagship academic medical center in downtown Baltimore, and the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center.

Participants were all students at the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON); the program is expanding for the fall 2022 semester to involve nursing students from all three campuses of the Community College of Baltimore County and Chesapeake College on the Eastern Shore. ACE is also being expanded to additional UMMS hospitals; the University of Maryland Medical Center (Midtown Campus), UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie, UM Upper Chesapeake Health’s two hospitals serving Harford County, UM Shore Regional Health facilities, and UM Rehabilitation and Orthopaedic Institute. More than 30 nursing cohorts with more than 120 nursing students are planned for the fall 2022 semester.