An Initiative Using Simulation to Aid in Retention of Advanced Cardiac Life Support Knowledge and Skills in an Emergency Department Nurse Residency Program

Dimens Crit Care Nurs. 2020 Jan/Feb;39(1):33-38. doi: 10.1097/DCC.0000000000000394.


Introduction: Cardiac arrest is the most urgent type of emergency, and favorable outcomes are best achieved by early resuscitation. Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification enables nurses to provide care to patients who are at a high risk of life-threatening emergencies.

Objective: The objective of this quality improvement project was to explore the retention of knowledge and skills of 20 graduate nurses who participated in a nurse residency program using an ACLS simulation-based learning experience (SBLE) at 2 and 8 weeks post completion of an ACLS provider course.

Methods: A pretest-posttest design was used with 2 emergency department graduate nurse cohorts who participated in an SBLE focused on ACLS components at 2 and 8 weeks after attending the ACLS provider course. Simulation-based learning experiences were videotaped, and outcome measures (ie, time to shock) were measured in seconds. The nurses completed the ACLS written test before and after the SBLE.

Results: Most ACLS outcomes improved after SBLE except time to shock. Pretest-posttest ACLS average scores decreased from 93.5% to 77.8% (first cohort) and from 94.5% to 86.7% (second cohort).

Discussion: Simulation-based learning experience may be an important adjunct instructing method for teaching new graduates ACLS skills.

MeSH terms

  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support / education*
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support / nursing*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Education, Nursing, Graduate
  • Educational Measurement*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Heart Arrest / nursing*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Quality Improvement
  • Simulation Training*