Changing Healthcare’s Mindset Around CPR Training and Readiness

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

Annual CPR training is seen by many in the healthcare workplace as something along the lines of a flu shot: necessary and even helpful, but not thought about very much. Both save lives, however, and in the case of CPR training that time and attention to initial and re-certification, alongside ongoing testing, is a key component of being an effective employee.

Thanks to advocacy and innovative strategies put forth by nurse, clinical educator, and HealthStream’s resuscitation coach Donna Haynes and other CPR boosters, that mindset is changing. And while she’s quick to hail improvements around training and support for CPR, her three decades of experience also tell Haynes that there is lots of work left to do.

“I’ve been a nurse for a long time, so I’ve experienced CPR training at different levels,” she says. “It’s come a long way but still needs improvement. That is coming through change management. We’re changing the tools that we use to train, the frequency of training, and how we train. All that is working together to improve outcomes.”

Tackling disparity to improve training outcomes

A major challenge is that every organization not only approaches CPR training differently, they also conduct the training itself in myriad ways. That leads to issues around competency; even though people may be certified, their skills may be lacking, Haynes points out, adding that this is an increasingly visible and critical issue in non-acute healthcare settings. Because those increasingly diverse sites are becoming more widespread and a larger part of the overall care landscape, their staff will need high-quality, replicable, CPR training.

“There’s still a lot of variability with how organizations are conducting the training and the outcomes they’re achieving from that training,” she says. “I think there’ll be a continued drill-down of the science with the focus to really improve survivability and outcomes. I also think non-acute settings will have an increased presence in meeting healthcare needs, and therefore they’re going to even have a greater need for quality CPR training. We, as educators and learning development specialists, will need to continue to create efficient and advanced modes of skill development and maintenance of competency.”

Success will be driven by those efforts, but will also be supported by the employees themselves. When they achieve success in CPR training, they become much more willing to stay engaged because what they’ve learned is more meaningful, Haynes believes.

“Once an individual really experiences success, they see the value and really begin to build more confidence in their ability to deliver quality CPR. And for those who really care about their patients, that’s very important, that you’re there for them in every situation,” she says.

To further her point, she describes a certified nurses’ aide’s struggle and that “light bulb” moment.

“She had to complete her Basic Life Support, or BLS, and was petrified she wouldn’t pass,” Haynes recalls. “She actually over-practiced, believe me, just to make sure; but the day she came to validate her CPR skills I saw that because she had practiced and gone up to the lab to work with the manikin, she was confident and she passed with shining scores. She was beaming, because not only did she pass, she also truly felt like she was able to deliver quality compressions in a code situation and really be a contributor to the outcome for that patient. A few weeks later, there was a code, and she volunteered right away. Team members that were also involved commented on her excellent compressions — and the patient survived.”

That neatly summarizes the connection between ongoing, improving CPR training and the improvement of care, both during the presenting event and after resuscitation. And as training becomes better and more efficiently deployed, those successes will continue to build on each other, Haynes predicts.

“Programs that don’t really look to training aren’t helping people learn, and a lot of educators and settings are working very hard to overcome those,” she says, noting that even if someone never has the occasion to perform CPR, “I want people to learn the whole culture of resuscitation, because it is really special.”

About Donna Haynes:

Donna Haynes is a nurse and clinical educator who serves as HealthStream’s national resuscitation coach. Her results-oriented HeartCode programs meet the new American Hospital Association guidelines for Resuscitation Quality Improvement, making them a must for any organization committed to delivering quality patient care. Prior to joining HealthStream, Donna was a HeartCode user and administrator at Pullman Regional Hospital. Her healthcare career also has included roles as an emergency department, pediatric intensive care and medical surgical staff RN, Director of Clinical Education and Simulation and a Magnet Coordinator. She is a national award winner for her work in developing CPR competence. 

This blog post is taken from a HealthStream Second Opinions Podcast that was recorded recently. To hear Haynes’ full discussion, click here.