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High-fidelity simulation enhances ACLS training.



Medical student training and experience in cardiac arrest situations is limited. Traditional Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) teaching methods are largely unrealistic with rare personal experience as team leader. Yet Postgraduate Year 1 residents may perform this role shortly after graduation.


We expanded our ACLS teaching to a "Resuscitation Boot Camp" where we taught 2010 ACLS to 19 pregraduation students in didactic (12 hours) and experiential (8 hours) format.


Immediately before the course, we recorded students performing an acute coronary syndrome/ventricular fibrillation (VF) scenario. As a final test, we recorded the same scenario for each student. Primary outcomes were time to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation (DF). Secondary measures were total scenario score, dangerous actions, proportion of students voicing "ventricular fibrillation," 12-lead ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) interpretation, and care necessary for return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC). Two expert ACLS instructors scored both performances on a 121-point scale, with each student serving as their own control. We used t tests and McNemar tests for paired data with statistical significance at p<.05.


Before instruction, average time from arrest to CPR was 112 seconds and to first DF 3.01 minutes. Students scored 45±9/121 points and 9/19 (49%) performed dangerous actions. After instruction, time to CPR was 12 seconds (p=004) and to first DF 1.53 minutes (p=.03). Time to DF was delayed as students showed mastery of bag-valve-mask ventilation before DF. After instruction, students scored 97±4/121 points (p<.0001) with no dangerous actions. Before training, only 4 of 19 (21%) students performed both CPR and DF within 2 minutes, and 3 of these had ROSC. After training, 14 of 19 (74%) achieved CPR+DF≤2 minutes (p=.002), and all had ROSC. Before training, 5 of 19 (26%) students said "VF" and 4 of 19 obtained an ECG, but none identified STEMI. After training, corresponding performance was 13 of 19 "VF" (68%, p=021) and 100% ECG and STEMI identification (p<.05).


This course significantly improved knowledge and psychomotor skills. Critical actions required for resuscitation were much more common after training. ACLS training including high-fidelity simulation decreases time to CPR and DF and improves performance during resuscitation.

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