University of Buffalo

University of Buffalo

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Overview of the Innovation

The University at Buffalo School of Nursing uses a variety of approaches to provide community health, pediatric and mental health nursing experiences.  These include placing student in residential addiction program for women and their children, a Dedicated Education Unit (DEU) with the VNA for home visits across population groups including pediatric and mental health, and a DEU in a community based hospice program with an inpatient and home care service.  Recent health system changes as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have resulted in less availability of acute care pediatric experiences since inpatient unites have closed.  Responding to the need for hands-on experiences for students in pediatrics the School of Nursing has collaborated with a child care center on campus  as well as with a day camp for medically fragile and underserved children from the community.  These experiences have been hands-on community pediatric experiences that have worked well to enable students to gain experiences in pediatric nursing as well as community  and mental health care.   Upper division nursing students will be placed for 5 weeks with the VNA and 5 weeks in acute care as well as in a DEU focused on hospice home care.  During the Public Health for Population Health course students engage in service-learning activities with community based health and social service agencies.  During these experiences students conduct a community assessment and also learn descriptive epidemiology in order to understand the distribution and determinants of disease in the target populations and to understand community disease patterns.  The curriculum emphasizes critical thinking skills, leadership at the bedside to promote quality health outcomes and safety,  and evidence based practice. To reinforce these practices, students complete the IHI Basic Certificate on Quality and Safety.  The University at Buffalo School of Nursing was the first SON in the United States to implement this requirement within the curriculum.  Students’ NCLEX scores have improved and remained high during the curricular shift to hands-on community-based care.  Faculty emphasize the need for students to have hands-on community care experiences that provide the opportunity to develop clinical skills and critical thinking in the community setting.


Berwick, D.M., Nolan, T.W., and Wittington, J., (2008). The triple aim:  care, health, and cost.  Health Affairs. 27:3, 759-769.  DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.27.3.759

Institute for Health Improvement.  IHI Open School Courses and Certificates.


S. Grinslade, PhD, APRN-BC,
Undergraduate Program Director and Clinical Professor
University at Buffalo, School of Nursing