Early Integration of Basic Arrhythmia Content in Undergraduate Nursing Curriculum

Tuesday, 23 July 2013: 1:30 PM

Margaret B. Harvey, PhD, ACNP-BC, RN
School of Nursing, Belmont University, Nashville, TN

Learning Objective 1: The learner will describe the benefits of introducing basic arrhythmia content early in undergradute nursing curriculum.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will identify strategies to integrate basic arrhythmia content in undergraduate nursing curriculum.

Purpose:  The purpose of this study was to determine if introducing basic arrhythmia content earlier in nursing curriculum improved student’s ability to identify normal and abnormal heart rhythms. Competency in identifying basic arrhythmias is essential as changes in patient’s heart rhythms are often early indicators of decreasing physical stability. Advances in technology have led to more hospitals employing telemetry and patients hospitalized now tend to present with more acute conditions.  Students are introduced to basic arrhythmias during the last semester of their senior year, yet they often care for hospitalized patients who are on telemetry earlier in their program of study. Thus, a need was identified to introduce basic arrhythmia content earlier in the curriculum. Methods: A descriptive, correlation study design was used to determine if students who received basic arrhythmia content earlier in the curriculum (Adult Health I N = 76) would rank higher in their ability to identify basic arrhythmias than those who did not (Adult Health II N = 32). At the completion of each respective course, students completed a self-reported, five item questionnaire ranking their ability to identify basic arrhythmias. Results: Mann-Whitney U indicated those who received basic arrhythmia content earlier in the curriculum ranked their ability to identify basic arrhythmias higher (p<0.000) than those who did not. Descriptive analysis revealed that while 82 % of the total students had patients on telemetry during Adult Health 1 clinical, only 39% attempted to interpret these rhythms as students reported they had no previous knowledge of this content. 89% of the students (Adult Health II, N=38) felt they would have benefited from receiving basic arrhythmia content earlier in the curriculum.Conclusion: Early integration of basic arrhythmia content in nursing curriculum improves student’s ability to identify abnormal heart rhythms which ultimately translates to improved patient safety and quality of care.