October 2009

LEARN Adds Life Support Certification Courses

CHI is providing a new way for clinicians to certify and recertify in basic life support (BLS) and advanced cardiac life support (ACLS). LEARN, CHI's online learning management system, now offers BLS and ACLS courses, developed and sponsored by the American Hospital Association, that combine computer-based learning with hands-on skills practice.

Clinicians complete the cognitive portion of each course online, then test their skills on a manikin that is specially equipped to provide instant feedback to the student. "Because these courses do not rely on the presence of an instructor, they eliminate many common obstacles to cardiopulmonary resuscitation training," said Kevin Preston, manager, learning network. "For example, there's no difficulty finding instructors or achieving the student/instructor ratios required by the American Hospital Association. MBOs can also offer the LEARN courses on a 24/7 basis, accommodating all shifts."

In addition, the BLS course takes about two hours to complete, compared to four hours for instructor-led courses. The ACLS course, a requirement for clinicians who work in intensive care settings, takes approximately seven hours rather than the eight needed for traditional classroom training. "About 60 percent of CHI's workforce is required to certify in BLS every two years, and 25 percent of those also require ACLS certification," said Preston. "LEARN's courses let them complete training and return to patient care duties more quickly."

The combination of computer-based learning and hand-on skills practice is an innovative concept in BLS and ACLS training. "The computer-based portion of the training is very interactive," said Preston. "The manikins used for skills practice are also interactive - the computer inside actually 'talks' to students and gives immediate feedback on skills practice."

Some MBOs will achieve thousands of dollars in savings by switching from instructor-led or outsourced BLS and ACLS training to the LEARN courses; across CHI, there is the potential for almost $500,000 in annual savings. Ten CHI MBOs, including Saint Clare's Health System, Denville, NJ; Central Kansas Medical Center, Great Bend, KS; and Saint Elizabeth Health Systems, Lincoln, NE, are moving forward with implementation.

Ninety percent of clinicians who have completed the BLS course, including some of CHI's clinical leaders, gave it positive ratings. "As a long-time CPR instructor and nurse, I learned more about the effectiveness of my technique from this course - and I feel I'll be better at resuscitation than before," said Kathy Sanford, senior vice president and chief nursing officer.

ACLS students find the cognitive portion of that course to be particularly challenging, but ultimately effective. "This was hard, but I feel I know that material better than I did," said one course evaluation. Another student wrote, "The course was very detailed. When you complete the scenario and pass it, you will really perform an effective advanced life support."

For more information on LEARN's BLS and ACLS courses, contact Kevin Preston, kevinpreston@catholichealth.net.