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Essentials of Critical Care Orientation (ECCO)

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Brandon Hall Award ECCO 3

You know the effort and time required for critical care units to onboard new nurses. More than anything else, you want a quality orientation program that offers flexibility and provides nurses the skills, knowledge and confidence to achieve optimal outcomes for patients. AACN’s Essentials of Critical Care Orientation (ECCO) course, designed by critical care nurses for critical care nurses, gives you that quality and flexibility.

ECCO’s modular course design lets you tailor the course to your nurses’ and unit’s needs. Continuing education (CE) units are even provided by module to support this flexibility. Learners can complete all or part of the course, depending on what works best for your needs. ECCO also allows educators to enroll nurses in tracks focusing either on orientation to the intensive care unit (ICU) or to the progressive care unit (PCU), ensuring nurses receive content pertinent to their practice.

ECCO’s interactive, peer-reviewed education easily blends into existing new nurse orientation plans, resulting in well-prepared and confident nurses. This recently optimized course features the latest evidence-based nursing knowledge and best practices for nurses working with acutely and/or critically ill patients.

More than 1,100 hospitals in the United States and Canada have made the ECCO course part of their critical care learning environment.

The ECCO Difference

AACN’s ECCO course helps achieve orientation objectives through the following:

  •  Evidence-based online learning: Featuring peer-reviewed, case-based, real-world- context learning across body systems, ECCO offers content relevant to all patient types. With a focus ranging from orientation to progressive or critical care, the learning solution is offered in modules that are 2.5-6.25 hours each, designed to support the best outcomes for patients. 
  • ICU and PCU learning tracks: With 18 ICU track modules and 17 PCU track modules, the course addresses the clinical knowledge needs of both intensive care and progressive care nurses. Learners can be enrolled in either track to ensure they receive the content most relevant to their practice.
  • Easy-to-implement management support: Designed to be part of a blended learning solution, the modular approach to course delivery allows managers and educators to integrate AACN’s offering into their own orientation plans and learner needs, supported by robust reports and progress tracking tools for straightforward implementation.
  • Multimedia elements:  Video, audio, interactive activities and knowledge checks are designed to ensure learner engagement, improve confidence and provide learning outcomes that last.
  • Help with options for purchase and implementation: AACN can help site administrators or managers determine the best options for their learners’ and institutions’ specific needs. ICU and PCU tracks can be purchased either as a full course or by module to best meet each learner’s unique needs. 

ECCO contains 18 modules for the ICU track and 17 modules for the PCU track. A case-based approach immerses learners in real-world situations, while interactive elements encourage critical thinking and decision making about patient care. The course offers a safe environment for learners to explore and make mistakes, including correct decisions and rationale. Learning is reinforced with reviews at the assignment level and evaluated with a module exam.

If you have questions or are unsure if ECCO is for you, please contact the AACN E-Learning Customer Care team at e-learning@aacn.org or 800-899-0573.

Individual Modules

ECCO individual modules are also available for purchase. Customize the ECCO experience to meet your institution’s clinical environment needs.

Review Individual Modules

CE Hours vs. Seat Time

CE hours and seat time were calculated based on the average time learners who previously took ECCO reported it took to complete all interactivities and exams. The CE hours and seat time for the enhanced version of ECCO are aligned to reflect the average time a learner is expected to take to complete each module. Total seat time was reduced from a reported high of 100-120 hours to 79 hours for the ICU track and 75 hours for the PCU track.

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Course Learning Objectives

Upon completing this course, learners will be able to:

  1. Identify and implement evidence-based care strategies to prevent hospital-associated infections and complications.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of common conditions experienced by acutely ill patients requiring critical care nursing.
  3. Evaluate assessment data, and determine priority interventions for patients with critical illness.
  4. Apply an understanding of various monitoring modalities in evaluating patient progress and making patient care decisions.
  5. Anticipate potential complications, and take steps to prevent them.
  6. Assess the effectiveness of interventions for patients experiencing critical illness.



Technical Requirements