Saturday, November 3, 2007

This presentation is part of : Global Nursing Education Initiatives
A Survey of Physical Examination Techniques Taught in Undergraduate Nursing Programs
Jean Foret Giddens, PhD, RN, College of Nursing, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA and Linda Eddy, PhD, RN, FNP, College of Nursing, Washington State University - Vancouver, Vancouver, WA, USA.
Learning Objective #1: describe differences in examination skills reportedly taught in undergraduate programs.
Learning Objective #2: discuss the implications of findings in the context of clinical nursing practice.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare the physical assessment skills taught in associate and baccalaureate nursing programs.

Method: This descriptive cross-sectional research study utilized non-parametric statistics. Data were collected using a Web-based survey format. Deans and directors of selected programs were contacted by e-mail with the invitation for their program to participate in the study. Participants followed a Web link to complete the survey in a secure online platform.  The survey included questions about the nursing program, faculty teaching the course, and an indication of specific skills taught or not taught in the course.

Sample:  The sample included 468 undergraduate (235 baccalaureate- and 233 associate-degree) nursing programs randomly selected from lists generated from the National League for Nursing and the CCNE websites. A total of 198 individuals teaching in undergraduate nursing programs completed the survey accounting for a 42% return rate.

Results: Of  the 122 skills surveyed, 80% were reportedly “taught” by the majority of nursing programs, but statistically significant differences between associate and baccalaureate nursing programs existed for 71% of those skills usually taught, and all skills taught less than half the time.  When 18 systems-based assessment categories were analyzed, significant differences were found in all except assessment of integument, breast, cardiovascular, male/female reproductive, anal-rectal, sensory and central nervous systems.

Conclusions: Significant differences in the physical assessment skills taught exist between baccalaureate and associate degree nursing programs. Previous research has shown that nurses use less than 25% of these same skills regularly in clinical practice regardless of their educational preparation. Considering the issues with content saturation within nursing curricula, this research raises questions about the depth physical examination content should be taught in undergraduate nursing education.