Open Access Research article

CPR in medical schools: learning by teaching BLS to sudden cardiac death survivors – a promising strategy for medical students?

Oliver Robak, Johannes Kulnig, Fritz Sterz*, Thomas Uray, Moritz Haugk, Andreas Kliegel, Michael Holzer, Harald Herkner, Anton N Laggner and Hans Domanovits

Author Affiliations

Department of Emergency Medicine, Medical University of Vienna, Austria Waehringer Guertel 18-20, 1090 Vienna, Austria

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BMC Medical Education 2006, 6:27  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-6-27

Published: 28 April 2006

Abstract

Background

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training is gaining more importance for medical students. There were many attempts to improve the basic life support (BLS) skills in medical students, some being rather successful, some less. We developed a new problem based learning curriculum, where students had to teach CPR to cardiac arrest survivors in order to improve the knowledge about life support skills of trainers and trainees.

Methods

Medical students who enrolled in our curriculum had to pass a 2 semester problem based learning session about the principles of cardiac arrest, CPR, BLS and defibrillation (CPR-D). Then the students taught cardiac arrest survivors who were randomly chosen out of a cardiac arrest database of our emergency department. Both, the student and the Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) survivor were asked about their skills and knowledge via questionnaires immediately after the course. The questionnaires were then used to evaluate if this new teaching strategy is useful for learning CPR via a problem-based-learning course. The survey was grouped into three categories, namely "Use of AED", "CPR-D" and "Training". In addition, there was space for free answers where the participants could state their opinion in their own words, which provided some useful hints for upcoming programs.

Results

This new learning-by-teaching strategy was highly accepted by all participants, the students and the SCD survivors. Most SCD survivors would use their skills in case one of their relatives goes into cardiac arrest (96%). Furthermore, 86% of the trainees were able to deal with failures and/or disturbances by themselves. On the trainer's side, 96% of the students felt to be well prepared for the course and were considered to be competent by 96% of their trainees.

Conclusion

We could prove that learning by teaching CPR is possible and is highly accepted by the students. By offering a compelling appreciation of what CPR can achieve in using survivors from SCD as trainees made them go deeper into the subject of resuscitation, what also might result in a longer lasting benefit than regular lecture courses in CPR.