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Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2019 Dec;20(12):1164-1169. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0000000000002069.

Evaluation of Pediatric Cardiac ICU Advanced Practice Provider Education and Practice Variation.

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The Heart Institute, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH.
C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, Ann Arbor, MI.
Lucille Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, Palo Alto, CA.



The education, training, and scope of practice of cardiac ICU advanced practice providers is highly variable. A survey was administered to cardiac ICU advanced practice providers to examine specific variations in orientation format, competency assessment during and at the end of orientation, and scope of clinical practice to determine gaps in resources and need for standardization.


This study was a cross-sectional descriptive study utilizing survey responses.


Pediatric cardiac ICUs in the United States.


The survey was delivered to a convenience sample of advanced practice providers currently practicing in pediatric cardiac ICUs.


A list of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery programs was generated from the Society of Thoracic Surgery database. A self-administered, electronic survey was delivered via email to advanced practice providers at those institutions. Descriptive data were compared using a chi-square test or Fisher exact test depending on the normalcy of data. Continuous data were compared using a Student t test or Mann-Whitney U test.


Eighty-three of 157 advanced practice providers responded (53% response rate, representing 36 institutions [35% of institutions]). Sixty-five percent of respondents started as new graduates. Ninety-three to one-hundred percent obtain a history and physical, order/interpret laboratory, develop management plans, order/titrate medications, and respiratory support. Ability to perform invasive procedures was highly variable but more likely for those in a dedicated cardiac ICU. Seventy-seven percent were oriented by another advanced practice provider, with a duration of orientation less than 4 months (66%). Fifty percent of advanced practice providers had no guidelines in place to guide learning/competency during orientation. Sixty-seven percent were not evaluated in any way on their knowledge or skills during or at the end of orientation. Orientation was rated as poor/fair by the majority of respondents for electrophysiology (58%) and echocardiography (69%). Seventy-one percent rated orientation as moderately effective or less. Respondents stated they would benefit from more structured didactic education with clear objectives, standardized management guidelines, and more simulation/procedural practice. Eighty-five percent were very/extremely supportive of a standardized cardiac ICU advanced practice provider curriculum.


Orientation for cardiac ICU advanced practice providers is highly variable, content depends on the institution/preceptor, and competency is not objectively defined or measured. A cardiac ICU advanced practice provider curriculum is needed to standardize education and promote the highest level of advanced practice provider practice.

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