AACN News—September 2007—Practice

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Vol. 24, No. 9, SEPTEMBER 2007


Practice Resource Network


Q: I recently accepted a position as a unit-based educator in an ICU. Previously I was working at the bedside and had some relief charge nurse duties. What resources do you recommend for me in this new role?

A: Congratulations on your new position. If you have no previous experience as an educator you will have two major development hurdles to work on. You will need to develop yourself in the educator role as well as develop an education plan for your unit. Here are some questions for your unit/service line manager that will help clarify your direction.

1. What do you see as the overarching need for education on this unit?
2. What are your expectations of me over the next year?
3. Are we planning any major service line or unit-related changes in the next year?
4. Do you have any data that will help me devise an education plan?
5. Can you suggest an education mentor to orient me in the role?

It is important to determine the manager’s goals and needs for the unit. Ask him/her to be explicit rather than referring to the ambiguities that can exist in a job description. Once you know his/her goals and plans you will have your benchmarks for the next year. Any planned service line or unit changes will help to forecast educational needs. You will also need data to determine the high-risk/low-volume activities to be addressed. If he/she does not have a mentor in mind for you, identify someone with hospital-based education experience who can help you grow in the role.

Consider conducting a formal or informal survey of the unit staff to determine their perceived educational needs and why they think the education is important. Their perceptions may not be consistent with what the manager is expecting. If that is true you should provide linkages between what the staff thinks is important and the manager’s and unit’s needs in order to be successful.

There are already required educational topics each year, such as safety, BLS, ACLS and others, which are determined by your facility. Plan these into your overall education calendar for the unit.

All of this information goes into your educational needs assessment and plan. Additional data such as the mechanisms for education delivery (routine inservice days, communication books/boards, staff development classes, continuing education offerings, intranet capacity) will diversify the types of education you provide. If you work in a facility or university-based setting with access to a simulation lab you may want to consider that as an educational venue. Once you have all this information, start planning how you will deliver the education for the year.

There are many generic critical care resources that are useful for any educator. Be sure you have a current pathophysiology book. If the one you used in school is more than 5 years old it is out of date.

Additional resources include “AACN Advanced Critical Care” edited by Karen Carlson and due out in Winter 2007. For more information, visit: http://www.us.elsevierhealth.com/product.jsp?isbn=9781416032199. Another excellent text, written in an outline format, is “AACN Core Curriculum for Critical Care Nursing” 6th Ed., which uses a systems-based approach and includes information on the AACN Synergy Model for Patient Care; https://my.aacn.org/ecomtpro/Timssnet/products/TNT_products.cfm.
Another resource, if you are looking for text with clinical bedside exemplars, is “AACN Essentials of Critical Care Nursing,” which is especially useful in building case studies for your staff; https://my.aacn.org/ecomtpro/Timssnet/products/TNT_products.cfm.

To learn about developing multimedia presentations, enroll in a PowerPoint class that includes tips on what information works well on slides, the appropriate amount of information for a slide, and how to add sound and motion. To find good visuals for your slides, visit the Heal (health education assets library) Digital Library at www.healcentral.org. Access to the materials is free for educators.

To build your skills as an educator, talk to your mentor and develop an education plan. Look for inservices, classes or continuing education on topics such as Adult Learning Theory, Preceptor Development and Building Assessment Tools. Ask your medical librarian (if you don’t have one, find one) about refined literature searches and information access. If you share your area of interest, he/she will likely take an interest in your development and keep you updated on the latest information in your specialty.

Subscribe to a listserv. Even if you only “lurk” you will gain valuable knowledge and access to various tools. Sign up for the AACN Critical Care Newsline weekly e-newsletter to received updates on the healthcare environment and evidence-based practice outside your facility. You are not required to be an AACN member to subscribe;http://www.aacn.org/intranet/mk/eNewsltr.nsf/vwdoc/Newsline?opendocument.

These resources will get you started. By the time you have finished the first year you will have a clearer focus for the future.

New Continuing Education Programs Available


Two new CE programs, initially presented at NTI 2007, have been added to AACN’s Online Free CE Center. The first, “Hyponatremia: Diagnosis and Management in the Critical Care Setting,” is sponsored by the Academy for Healthcare Education and supported by an educational grant from Astellas Pharma US, Inc. The second, “The Acute and Critical Care Nurses’ Role in Assessing Venous Thromboembolism and Heparin-induced Thrombocytopenia,” is sponsored by the Center for Medical Knowledge and supported by an educational grant from GlaxoSmithKline.
To access the programs, log on to the AACN Web site (www.aacn.org) and click on Continuing Education.

Oct. 1 is the deadline to apply for these AACN nursing research grants.


AACN Clinical Practice Grant
This $6,000 grant supports research on one or more AACN research priorities. Research conducted in fulfillment of an academic degree is acceptable.

AACN-Sigma Theta Tau Critical Care Grant

AACN and Sigma Theta Tau International co-sponsor this $10,000 grant, which may be used to fund research for an academic degree. Principal investigators must be members of AACN and/or of Sigma Theta Tau International.

AACN Evidence-based Clinical Practice Grant
This grant funds six awards of up to $1,000 each to stimulate the use of patient-focused data or previously generated research findings to develop, implement and evaluate changes in acute and critical care nursing practice.

AACN-Philips Medical Systems Outcomes for Excellence Research Grant in Memory of Carla C. Joliat

This grant, co-sponsored by AACN and Philips Medical Systems, funds three awards of up to $10,000 each to support research to achieve improved outcomes and/or system efficiencies in the care of acutely or critically ill patients.

AACN-Edwards Lifesciences Nurse-Driven Clinical Practice Outcomes Grant

This grant, co-sponsored by AACN and Edwards Lifesciences, funds two awards of up to $5,000. Each grant supports a nurse experienced in research who is conducting a clearly articulated research study that relates to the use of nurse-driven, protocol-based care.

To find out more about AACN’s research priorities and grant opportunities, visit the Research area of the AACN Web site at www.aacn.org > Research > Grants or e-mail research@aacn.org.