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Title: A needs assessment for continuous professional development for South African advanced life support providers
Authors: Pillay, Bernard Christopher 
Keywords: Continuous professional development;Advanced life support
Issue Date: 2011
South African Advanced Life Support (ALS) providers follow an autonomous practice model of care. This advanced role profile is characterized by clinical skill competence and autonomous decision making whilst demonstrating a high level of awareness of their own ethical attitudes, values and beliefs. It is through a professional commitment that ALS providers deliver an advanced evidence based practice that should be maintained constantly within a dynamic environment. Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is seen as an instrument for this. CPD should also serve as a means to acquire professional excellence and going beyond the boundaries of meeting the base level standard with the aim of providing the finest quality of care in the interest of patient safety.
Purpose of the research
The purpose of this research is to identify gaps in the professional development of out-of-hospital ALS providers trained in South Africa by assessing frequency of performance of ALS clinical skills, by determining perceived level of competence and predictors of confidence, and by sourcing information on attendance of CPD activities and training needs.
This study used a quantitative non-experimental design. Data was attained from an e-mail based descriptive survey that was limited to a precise and concise questionnaire. The data from 140 (N) ALS providers was subjected to a descriptive statistical analysis using the PASW statistics version 18.0 to systematically show patterns and trends. Frequency distributions were generated to describe data categories. Bivariate analysis was conducted using Chi-square and Pearson correlation tests.
Results indicated that ALS providers performed clinical skills infrequently. Of the total number of respondents 140 (N), the average ALS clinical skills performance was 6 (4.8%) daily. In the 2-6 times a week category 8 (6.4%) ALS clinical skills were performed. ALS clinical skills performance in the once a week category showed an average of 7 (5.6%) and the once a month category, an average of 17 (13.7%) ALS skills were performed. An average of 31 (25%) ALS skills were performed in the once in six months category whilst an average of 54 (43.5%) were performed in the greater than six months category. CPD activities that are appropriate to ensuring the maintenance of competence for these clinical skills were not adequately undertaken. Medical updates were mostly attended by ALS providers, 52 (42.9%) whilst CPD events that addressed clinical skills, was mostly limited
to the ACLS course 42 (34.7%). The needs assessment for CPD showed that 56 (53%) of respondents expressed a need for paediatric and obstetric simulated skill sessions, whilst 43 (40.9%) requested clinical skills workshops and 39 (37.1%) expressed a need for clinical practice in theatre and coronary care units.
Conclusions and recommendations
This study shows that ALS clinical skill competence is maintained by frequent practice and appropriateness of CPD activities. The infrequent performance of ALS skills coupled with the lack of appropriate and diverse CPD activity attendance results in poor maintenance of competence. The loss of competence can be related to poor reported levels of confidence which consequently places patient safety at risk. To safeguard against medical error and ensure patient safety, it is strongly recommended that CPD audits be undertaken on all ALS providers for appropriate CPD compliance related to clinical skills performance. In addition to a clinical skills audit, it is recommended that a national clinical skills registry be established with the intention of facilitating clinical skill surveillance, to determine a notifiable, high risk skill set. To safeguard against knowledge and clinical skill attrition and loss of competence, the delivery of CPD activities should be assessed for effectiveness and appropriateness.
Dissertation submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Technology: Emergency Medical Care, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2011.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Health Sciences)

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