BACKGROUND: Residents are more likely to learn from educational experiences when properly prepared from the start of instruction and expectations are clear and consistent. The purpose of this study was to examine what first year residents need to know and be able to perform before starting their rotation in the intensive care unit (ICU). METHODS: The sample included surgical faculty, first through fifth year general surgery residents, and ICU nurses. A survey was developed that listed 110 knowledge and skill items felt to be possible prerequisite learning objectives. Respondents were asked to evaluate the required level of knowledge or skill on a 5-point Likert-type scale. RESULTS: Items were divided into knowledge or skill categories and then ranked in descending order by their mean ratings. Four knowledge and 10 skill items were ranked highly by all 3 groups of respondents. Kruskall-Wallis analyses found 58 items with statistically significant differences in mean ratings between groups of respondents. CONCLUSION: With this information a self assessment tool was developed to determine the level of performance on these identified learning objectives. A course of instruction can now be developed to assist residents in meeting these objectives before they assume patient care responsibilities in the ICU.
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