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Acad Med. 2006 Oct;81(10 Suppl):S9-S12.

A longitudinal study of internal medicine residents' retention of advanced cardiac life support skills.

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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, 251 E. Huron Street, Galter 3-150, Chicago, Illinois 60011, USA.



Internal medicine residents must be competent in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) for board certification. Traditional ACLS courses have limited ability to enable residents to achieve and maintain skills. Educational programs featuring reliable measurements and improved retention of skills would be useful for residency education.


We developed a training program using a medical simulator, small-group teaching and deliberate practice. Residents received traditional ACLS education and subsequently participated in four two-hour educational sessions using the simulator. Resident performance in six simulated ACLS scenarios was assessed using a standardized checklist.


After the program, resident ACLS skill improved significantly. The cohort was followed prospectively for 14 months and the skills did not decay.


Use of a simulation-based educational program enabled us to achieve and maintain high levels of resident performance in simulated ACLS events. Given the limitations of traditional methods to train, assess and maintain competence, simulation technology can be a useful adjunct in high-quality ACLS education.

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