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Nursing Study Points to Changing the Way We Teach CPR

Nursing Study Points to Changing the Way We Teach CPR

Quick Deterioration of Critical Skill for Nurses Found with Major Implications for How We Teach All Skills


New York, NY — July 30, 2010 — The chances for patient survival are improved with immediate and high quality CPR, making it an especially important skill for nurses, who are often the first responders to cardiac arrests in hospitals. Results of this study provide evidence for how we can help nursing students and other health providers maintain their basic life support (BLS) skills, noted Marilyn H. Oermann, PhD, RN, FAAN, ANEF, professor and adult/geriatric health chair at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and principal investigator for the nursing student component of the study. Staff nurses and other health care professionals were also included in this large interdisciplinary study, with Suzan Kardong-Edgren, PhD, RN, serving as project director.

Begun in 2008, different approaches to teaching and learning BLS were tested by students at 10 schools of nursing with associate, diploma, or baccalaureate programs. Students completed American Heart Association training in either a four-hour, instructor-led course or through a self-directed, computer-based course (HeartCodeTM BLS) that included learning and practice on a voice advisory manikin. After this initial training, students were randomly assigned to a control group with no further practice or to an experimental group, which practiced CPR six minutes each month for the 12 months of the study. The performance of all students, both the control and experimental groups, were tested after three, six, nine, and 12 months to determine their level of skill retention. Students who practiced their CPR psychomotor skills on voice advisory manikins for only six minutes a month either maintained or improved their skills over the 12-month period. In contrast students who did not practice beyond their initial BLS training had a significant loss of skills, some as early as three months after completing it.

In announcing the results, NLN president Dr. Cathleen Shultz said, "The big story may be how many implications there are from this study. One is the manner in which CPR is taught and the comparison of different types of instruction, but the more important findings for nursing education are related to the data on how quickly skills deteriorate. We spend considerable time teaching and evaluating psychomotor skills in the lab, but more often than not, students do not have an opportunity to use the skill anytime close to the time frame in which they learned it. So then they need to relearn when the time comes to use it."

"There is nothing more critical to student preparation and for the real world challenges of delivering safe, quality care than to maximize the synthesis and integration of knowledge and skill performance. We are grateful to Laerdal for funding this cutting-edge pedagogical inquiry and to the American Heart Association for providing the learning platform," said NLN CEO Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN.

An article describing the study will be published in the September/October issue of the NLNs research journal, Nursing Education Perspectives. In addition, "Comparison of Two Instructional Modalities for Nursing Student CPR Skill Acquisition" by Drs. Marilyn Oermann and Suzan E. Kardong-Edgren has been published in the August issue of Resuscitation.

Reporters/Editors: To arrange interviews, please contact Karen R. Klestzick, chief communications officer, at 212-812-0376 or

Dedicated to excellence in nursing, the National League for Nursing is the premier organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education offering faculty development, networking opportunities, testing services, nursing research grants, and public policy initiatives to its 32,000 individual and 1,200 institutional members.