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Nurs Crit Care. 2011 Sep-Oct;16(5):261-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1478-5153.2010.00442.x.

An evaluation of a critical care course for undergraduate nursing students.

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School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queens University Belfast, Medical Biology Centre, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK.



The aim of this paper was to evaluate a 2-day critical care course (CCC) delivered to a cohort of adult branch nursing students.


In today's health care system there is an increase in the number of critically ill patients being cared for in a ward environment. As a result, nurses require the knowledge and skills to effectively manage this patient group. Skills such as prompt recognition of the sick patient, effective communication and performing basic management care skills are necessary.


The CCC was provided to final year adult branch nursing students (n = 182) within a university in the UK. On completion of the course, participants were invited to undertake a Likert scale questionnaire. The questionnaire also contained a free response section to elicit qualitative information. Quantitative data were analysed using SPSS version 17.0 and descriptive statistics produced. Qualitative responses were analysed thematically.


There was a 73.7% (n = 135) response rate. Overall, there was a positive evaluation of the course. Students (89.6%; n = 121) reported a perceived increase in confidence when caring for critically ill patients following the course and 88.2% (n = 119) felt that their knowledge and skills had improved at the end of the 2-day course.


This study supports the implementation of critical care training for undergraduate nursing students. There are implications for the development of specific modules, aiming to improve undergraduate nursing students' recognition, assessment and management of the critically ill patient.


There is a shortage of critical care practice placements for undergraduate nursing students. It is essential that an undergraduate curriculum incorporates critical care teaching so that critical care skills are evident at the point of registration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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