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Resuscitation training in practice: saving more lives

Learn the 8 key factors for successful cardiac resuscitation training

Content provided by The American Heart Association

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States1, and deaths from cardiac arrest are a major contributor to that statistic. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is scientifically proven to save lives from cardiac arrest. However, there are multiple factors that affect your success when resuscitation is needed. Timeliness of CPR, consistent performance of high-quality CPR and the early use of a defibrillator directly impact a patient’s outcome.

Effective teamwork is another critical factor for success. Not only must healthcare providers be competent in delivering high-quality CPR, but patient care teams must be coordinated and competent working together effectively. High-quality training is required to achieve this level of competency.

There are multiple factors that can affect your success when resuscitation is needed.
There are multiple factors that can affect your success when resuscitation is needed. (image provided by The American Heart Association)

Better Training Saves Lives

The American Heart Association recently published a scientific statement in the medical journal Circulation surrounding its research into best practices for improved outcomes from resuscitation training. The scientific statement ”Resuscitation Education Science: Educational Strategies to Improve Outcomes From Cardiac Arrest” outlines eight key areas associated with improved training:

1. Mastery Learning and Deliberate Practice

Learners should practice individual CPR skills and team skills until they can demonstrate mastery. Performance standards should be based on observable behaviors and important measures for patient outcomes such as time, accuracy and best practices. For deliberate practice, learners should use skill repetition paired with feedback and exercises to learn behaviors that are difficult to master or should be performed automatically.

2. Spaced Learning

One to two days of resuscitation training every couple of years is effective for short-term learning. However, learners often do not retain these skills in the long term. Shorter learning sessions every few months may improve learning outcomes. Scheduling shorter, more frequent sessions (e.g., every 3 to 6 months) can replace what providers have forgotten over time. Opportunities also exist to increase learning outside of scheduled training by debriefing providers after real clinical events or simulations.

3. Contextual Learning

Use training experiences that apply to learners’ real-world scopes of practice. Tailor the learning experience for the types of learners, their settings, and the resources available in their environment.

Ensure that team composition and roles are right for learner groups and don’t be afraid to stress learners (to an extent). The right amount of stress and cognitive load can maximize engagement.

4. Feedback and Debriefing

Provide structured opportunities for reflection and feedback during resuscitation training. Start with a briefing before a learning event to establish a safe environment for learning. Use CPR quality data from a feedback device or manikin to help learners identify opportunities for improvement in real-time and tailor the debriefing methods and content to what the learners need.

5. Assessment

Measure learners’ competency throughout a course with a variety of tools and measure what truly matters for patient outcomes. Multiple types of knowledge and skills assessments can provide a broader picture of competence. Assessment drives learning, and it should be woven into the design of a course.

6. Innovative Educational Strategies

Explore gamification, social and digital platforms to make learning “stick.” Use social media to disseminate knowledge and engage the resuscitation education community. Use blogs and podcasts to supplement traditional education.

7. Faculty Development

Continuously coach and train instructors. Instructors must understand teaching and learning theories as well as demonstrate these skills before they begin teaching. Initial instructor training should include experiential learning, feedback, and the use of peers as role models. For continued development, use reflective practice, peer coaching, communities of practice and outcomes-based education.

8. Knowledge Translation and Implementation

Organizations should combine passive and active knowledge translation techniques to improve awareness and adoption of scientific guidelines. Organizations should also consider human factors, ergonomics, and physical space when planning training.  Performance measurements that include benchmarks and feedback should be used. Continuous quality improvement programs that outline the responsibilities of those who respond to cardiac arrest should be adopted. 

Your Trusted Source for CPR Training

American Heart Association training programs incorporate all the critical factors to ensure high-quality CPR skills are being taught.  We require the use of directive feedback devices to objectively measure CPR quality. No other training provider requires this level of certainty.

Hospitals trust AHA science and guidelines as the foundation for clinical decision making for stroke, STEMI, heart failure, atrial fibrillation and resuscitation care. Training with our proven resuscitation programs helps to ensure the best possible patient care every day.

AHA continually innovates to offer new ways to learn, train and improve CPR competence and team effectiveness. Watch for exciting new American Heart Association resuscitation courses – incorporating the latest science and innovation – to be released starting October 2020.  Learn more now.

1CDC, NCHS. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2013, released Feb. 2015         

2 Source: Resuscitation Education Science:  Educational Strategies to Improve Outcomes From Cardiac Arrest (Circulation, June 21, 2018)


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