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Clinical Educators teach critical skills with
Health Foundation-funded monitor defibrillator

A new Lifepak 15 monitor defibrillator is providing Clinical Educators the best means possible to teach nurses life-saving cardiac skills at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.

According to Brenda McGuey, a Registered Nurse and Clinical Educator for the Emergency Department at the Health Centre, the Lifepak 15 is a crucial piece of equipment that health care providers need to know how to use in emergent situations.

“A few years ago we began the transition from Lifepak 20s which were an older technology to the Lifepak 15,” says McGuey, who runs the Health Centre’s Emergency Nursing Education Program. “With the support of the Health Foundation, we also have one specifically for Clinical Education so that we can teach staff how to use this crucial piece of equipment.”

With the support of the Health Foundation through a gift from TELUS, the Clinical Education Department has its own dedicated Lifepak 15 to train and certify staff so that they’re comfortable and competent in caring for patients with cardiac conditions and life-threatening emergencies.

According to McGuey, the Health Centre’s Clinical Educators frequently use the Lifepak 15 because it’s such an important piece of equipment.

“We use it a lot – it gets used probably in every orientation regardless if someone is getting orientated to a critical care area where there’s an expectation that they’re on the code team or whether they’re being oriented to the floor,” she says. “Because these Lifepaks are on every floor of the facility, the expectation is that anyone can use it.”

“Having a dedicated one (Lifepak 15) specifically for the Clinical Education means that we can do hands on, skills training at any time continuously throughout the year. It also comes into play when we do our Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) courses that involve teaching staff how to facilitate a cardiac arrest situation,” says McGuey. “Staff have the opportunity to use that piece of equipment in a real time simulation and see how it actually functions, which is really beneficial.”

Previous to having their own Lifepak 15, Clinical Educators had to borrow one from another department. According to McGuey, this wasn’t ideal.

“It isn’t the best scenario because you’re taking one potentially out of circulation to train people how to use it, which means either moving the training to a non-ideal location or removing a Lifepak from that area,” she says. “We never took a Lifepak from somewhere that didn’t have more than one for safety reasons, but we still prefer to keep our equipment where it’s most needed.”

According to McGuey, switching from the Lifepak 20s to Lifepak 15s also presents many benefits.
“Lifepak 15s have a lot more technology than the 20s did - more monitor capabilities, more functions which make them more diverse in patient care situations,” she says.

The new Lifepak 15s also include a new automated external defibrillator (AED) function. The AED can be used to check a patient’s heart rhythm in a cardiac emergency and send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm.

“Having the AED function means that even if you haven’t taken ACLS and aren’t trained on how to use the Lifepak in manual mode, you can use it like an AED you would find anywhere in the public,” says McGuey.

In addition to Lifepak-specific training, the Clinical Education Department facilitates numerous educational opportunities for frontline staff to ensure the delivery of safe, quality patient care. Clinical Educators in the Health Centre specialize in a number of disciplines, including intensive care, maternal/child, emergency, surgery/pediatrics, medicine, home care/long-term care.

“As health care professionals, we gain so much knowledge throughout our careers and when you’re first starting it’s very difficult. You’re taught ideals, norms and theories in nursing school, regardless of what discipline of nursing you’re in. When you come out, you have no idea what you don’t know until you’re confronted with it,” says McGuey. “Clinical education helps bridge that gap.”

“Nursing is a very busy profession and as much as it’s our obligation to teach one another, sometimes within the confines of nurse to patient ratios and complexity of patient care, that isn’t always feasible. So what do you do? You turn to your clinical educator,” she says. “We teach and provide support to nurses as they’re learning new skills.”

“New equipment for staff can be very intimidating and when talking about the Lifepak 15, you’re talking about a piece of equipment that is used in very high pressure situations,” says McGuey. “Having the Lifepak 15 there and being able to provide hands on, continuous training means that in the moment, there’s less intimidation. Having the opportunity to pre-train means that in those crucial moments, staff are ready - they’re prepared.”

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Lifepak 15 - Clinical Education - March 2015 005.jpg

The Clinical Education Team's new Lifepak 15, funded by the Health Foundation through a generous gift from TELUS Communications. 

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