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Beyond clinical: my UC nursing co-op and DEU experience

UC College of Nursing's co-op program and Dedicated Education Units offer students additional opportunities beyond required clinical experiences.

During my junior year, my advisor and Dr. Debbie Schwytzer, the co-op program director, encouraged me to apply for the program. I got an offer from the NICU at Cincinnati Children's, which I gladly accepted since I know I want to work with pediatrics and critical care. In a nutshell, this is a paid program where you are paired with a registered nurse to work three 12-hour shifts a week during the summer before your senior year, then between 32-26 hours a month through the school year and back to the full-time schedule during the winter break.

During the co-op experience, you can do everything with the assigned nurse preceptor. This includes hand-off reports for patients, medication administration, nursing bedside procedures, education with family regarding the plan of care, etc. One of my favorite opportunities the program offers is shadowing various units. I had the privilege of shadowing a nurse at the CICU, PICU, neuro unit and operating room.

Although I am not graduating until the spring of 2023, I know I want to work at Cincinnati Children's in a critical care setting. Participating in the co-op program helps students make connections with managers and educators, which leads to high chances of being offered a job. When people ask me if I am worried about working as a registered nurse after graduation, I let them know how excited I am to begin this next journey. The DEU and co-op experiences have helped me have a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of nurses. I am excited to do it on my own after graduation!