In a practice-based discipline – such as nursing and midwifery training – it is required that students have enough academic preparation and real life practice experiences. Theoretical and clinical training are essential to gain all nursing and midwifery competences.
According to the Directive 2005/36/EC the clinical nursing training has to be at least on half of the minimum duration of the training (2300 hours). Sadly, the literature and the perceptions of employers notice that nursing graduates are not prepared during these clinical training to adequately assume their role in real practice. The traditional clinical education model were academic nursing faculty are typically seen as guests on health care units – possessing the  clinical skills and knowledge of the curricula – while nursing clinicians are seen as immersed in the day-to-day care of patients and assisting students by demonstrating skills, seems no longer sufficient. The only effective solution to maximize students’ learning outcomes during these clinical training is to create a powerful learning environment. A powerful learning environment supports authentic and self-regulated learning by education, coaching and mentoring of students, supporting critical thinking, problem solving and self-reflection, establishing student-staff relationships and academic partnership and creating a positive work atmosphere (Budgen & Gramroth, 2008; Murray et al., 2011). Evaluation research revealed beside positive student outcomes also increased staff and physician satisfaction, decreased orientation time of new graduates,  increased recruitment and cost savings in retention. To create a powerful learning environment in the actual work setting requires accessory efforts from the academic staff as well as the health care organization. Specially in times of exponential increased pressures in knowledge and technology, high levels of complexity, heavy workloads with challenging demands and inadequate resources (e.g. nursing shortages). To improve clinical training for the benefit of students, staff and patient, new health care and academic collaboration models are needed. The proposed project commenced from the innovative Dedication Education Unit (DEU) model as introduced by the Flinders University of South Australia (Edgecombe et al., 1999) and further enrolled by the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA, 2004) and the American Associate of College of Nursing (AACN, 2012). A DEU is a clinical site in the hospital, home or long-term care that is developed into an optimal teaching and learning environment through the collaborative efforts of staff nurses/midwifes, students and the academic nursing/midwifery faculty of the HEI. It is designed to provide students and patients with a positive clinical learning environment that maximizes the achievement of students learning outcomes and that enhances quality of care, using the expertise of both clinicians and faculty. In a DEU model, staff nurses/midwifes provide education, coaching and mentoring of students and the academic faculty support the staff nurses /midwifes in that specific role. Moreover, the staff is responsible for the clinical teaching of students and the academic faculty are responsible for guiding the staff in the education practice. The many positive outcomes that have been published have primarily involved DEU implementation outside Europe. Despite the increasingly focus on these types of innovative educational opportunities in European care settings no projects exist specifically describing the modifications of this model to the European higher education framework, the cross-border cooperation between DEU and the specific training program for nurse mentors and academic nurse.