Published May 17, 2023
Nurses are often the closest members of the heart care team to a child and their family after surgery, making them well-positioned to deliver patient-centered, personalized care. Despite their value, academic training for nursing in many underserved countries does not adequately prepare them for a pediatric cardiac care setting.
Nurse training is a vital part of the work Children’s HeartLink does. Our training programs help nurses improve their knowledge, technical skills, leadership abilities and confidence to identify when something is wrong and advocate for their patients to receive the best care possible.
Children’s HeartLink’s nurse training programs that are transforming heart care in underserved countries:
The Nurse Residency Program (NRP)
NRP launched in 2014 with the goal of increasing nurse knowledge, confidence and skillset so that they can apply best practices in their interactions with patients, families and allied staff. This can look like increased knowledge about signs of patient distress and what they might mean, as well as when to contact a physician and what information to provide them with.
In 2022, Children’s HeartLink with the support of nurse volunteers developed a virtual NRP to give more nurses the opportunity to learn and improve care for their patients through video-based lectures and group meetings. From February through December 2022, 32 nurses from four partner hospitals in India and one in Malaysia participated in NRP, engaging with our online materials over 2,500 times and with live sessions for 300 hours.
100% of nurses who participated in the virtual program said their knowledge of how to care for children with heart disease had increased.
Support for nurse training can save the lives of the hundreds of children they care for throughout their career.
Parent Education Discharge Instructions (PEDI)
Parent Education Discharge Instructions (PEDI) give caregivers the information and confidence they need to care for a child before and after heart surgery. Children’s HeartLink trains nurses at partner hospitals in PEDI, who then share PEDI with more than 10,000 children and their families every year.
PEDI, created by Children’s HeartLink, is available as a resource for any health care team to download. Published studies have shown nurses have a significant increase in knowledge after completing the PEDI program, and infections at the patient’s surgical site decrease dramatically after nurses complete the program.
Brazil’s first postgraduate nursing course
Brazil’s first postgraduate nursing course in pediatric cardiac care was developed by nursing leaders at Hospital da Criança e Maternidade (HCM), a Children’s HeartLink Center of Excellence, and is taught at FAMERP Medical University.
Nurses from across the country attend the 18-month program, which is supported by Children’s HeartLink and a multidisciplinary team of experts from HCM, including surgeons, cardiologists, intensivists, nurses and respiratory therapists. The course offers an in-depth overview of the diagnosis, treatment, management and long-term patient care.
Training supported by Children’s HeartLink reached 1,535 nurses across the world in 2022.
Outside the ongoing, curriculum-based nurse training programs above, more highlights from our nurse training programs included:
- With a return to travel in 2022, one-on-one nurse training and mentorship resumed, including bedside teaching during training visits to partner hospitals.
- A Children’s HeartLink partner hospital in northwestern India, a severely underserved region, has rescued the mortality rate after pediatric heart surgery to 5.5%. They’ve focused on building a well-trained cardiac nursing team and are turning their attention to increasing specialization and advanced practices.
- In November 2022, over 50 nurses participated in the Pediatric Cardiac Society of India conference, with 93% of those evaluated reporting they felt fully prepared to practice what they had learned.
- A partner hospital and medical volunteer team piloted the Nursing Educator Simulation Training (NEST) program using our blended learning model. The program is built to mentor nurses in infection prevention strategies through the introduction of nurse educators