Assessing advanced life support (ALS) competence: Victorian practices

Preston, Julie L., Currey, Judy and Eastwood, Glenn M. 2009, Assessing advanced life support (ALS) competence: Victorian practices, Australian critical care, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 164-171, doi: 10.1016/j.aucc.2009.05.002.

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Title Assessing advanced life support (ALS) competence: Victorian practices
Author(s) Preston, Julie L.
Currey, JudyORCID iD for Currey, Judy
Eastwood, Glenn M.
Journal name Australian critical care
Volume number 22
Issue number 4
Start page 164
End page 171
Total pages 8
Publisher Elsevier B.V.
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publication date 2009-11
ISSN 1036-7314
Keyword(s) advanced life support (ALS)
Summary Advanced life support (ALS) assessments are performed to assess nurses’ abilities to recognize cardiac arrest events, and appropriately manage patients according to resuscitation guidelines. Although there is evidence for conducting assessments after initial ALS education, there is little evidence to guide educators about ongoing assessments in terms of methods, format and frequency.

The aim of this study was to determine methods used by educators to assess ALS skills and knowledge for nurses in Victorian intensive care units. This descriptive study used telephone interviews to collect data. Data were analysed using content analysis. Twenty intensive care educators participated in this study. Thirteen educators (65%) were employed in public hospitals, and 7 educators (35%) worked in private hospitals across 12 Level 3 (60%) and 8 Level 2 (40%) intensive care units.

Results showed all educators used scenarios to assess ALS skills, with 12 educators (60%) including an additional theoretical test. There was variability in ALS assessment frequency, assessment timing in relation to initial/ongoing education, person performing the assessment, and the assessor/participant ratio. Nineteen educators (95%) reported ALS skill competency assessments occurred annually; 1 educator (5%) reported assessments occurred every 2 years. Assessments were conducted during a designated month (n = 10), numerous times throughout the year (n = 8), or on nurses’ employment anniversaries (n = 2). All educators reported many nurses avoided undertaking assessments.

Variability in ongoing ALS assessment methods was evident in Victorian intensive care units with some units applying evidence-based practices. Consideration should be given to the purposes and methods of conducting annual ALS assessments to ensure resources and strategies are directed appropriately. To encourage nurses to retain ALS skills and knowledge, regular practices are recommended as an alternative to assessments. However, further research is required to support this notion.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/j.aucc.2009.05.002
Field of Research 111003 Clinical Nursing: Secondary (Acute Care)
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
HERDC collection year 2009
Copyright notice ©2009, Australian College of Critical Care Nurses Ltd
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