Applying adult learning principles in healthcare education is increasingly recognised as useful and effective. We designed and evaluated an educational package for medical student basic life support (BLS) skills that placed the responsibility of skill acquisition with the learner. The package provided hardcopy and web based information, an in-house produced audio-video tape demonstrating BLS, and open access to manikins in a Skills Centre where the students learnt in pairs. Students determined when they were ready to be assessed. This assessment was performed by two independent observers using the Resuscitation Council (UK) BLS assessment sheet. Two groups, comprising in total 51 fourth year medical students were assessed, 47 were found to be competent in performing BLS on their first assessment. Of the remaining four, three were assessed as competent after further self-directed learning and retesting. Only one student required personal tutoring prior to success. Self-directed learning is a successful method of mastering BLS. Where failure occurred, it was due to inadequate student learning in the Skills Centre. The importance of practice needs emphasis in future use of the programme, as does the virtual guarantee of success, if all steps are followed. A similar programme could be devised for other technical skills.
- Basic life support (BLS) education
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)