Introduction: Medical and physician assistant (PA) students are often required to have Basic Life Support (BLS) education prior to engaging in patient care. Given the potential role of students in resuscitations, it is imperative to ensure that current BLS training prepares students to provide effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The objective of this study was to assess whether current BLS training produces student providers who can deliver BLS in an American Heart Association (AHA) guideline-adherent manner.
Methods: Students at a US medical school were recruited by convenience sampling. BLS performance immediately following a standard AHA BLS training course was evaluated during a two-minute CPR cycle using manikins. We also collected information on demographics, previous BLS training attendance, perceived comfort in providing CPR, and prior experiences in healthcare and providing or observing CPR.
Results: Among 80 participants, we found that compression rate, depth, and inter-compression recoil were AHA guideline-adherent for 90.0%, 68.8%, and 79.3% of total compression time, respectively. Mean hands-off time was also within AHA guidelines. Mean number of unsuccessful ventilations per cycle was 2.2. Additionally, 44.3% of ventilations delivered were of adequate tidal volume, 12.2% were excessive, and 41.0% were inadequate. Past BLS course attendance, prior healthcare certification, and previous provision of real-life CPR were associated with improved performance.
Conclusion: Following BLS training, medical and PA students met a majority of AHA compressions guidelines, but not ventilations guidelines, for over 70% of CPR cycles. Maintaining compression depth and providing appropriate ventilation volumes represent areas of improvement. Conducting regular practice and involving students in real-life CPR may improve performance.