Rapid Intensive Care Unit Onboarding in Response to a Pandemic

Author Department

Medicine; Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Background: In the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, hospital resources have been stretched to their limits. We introduced an innovative course to rapidly on-board a group of non-intensive care unit (ICU) nurse practitioners as they begin to practice working in a critical care setting.

Objective: To assess whether a brief educational course could improve non-ICU practitioners' knowledge and comfort in practicing in an intensive care setting.

Methods: We implemented a multi-strategy blended 12-week curriculum composed of bedside teaching, asynchronous online learning and simulation. The course content was a product of data collected from a targeted needs assessment. The cognitive learning objectives were taught through the online modules. Four simulation sessions were used to teach procedural skills. Bedside teaching simultaneously occurred from critical care faculty during daily rounds. We assessed learning through a pre and post knowledge multiple choice question (MCQ) test. Faculty assessed learners by direct observation and review of clinical documentation. We evaluated learner reaction and comfort in critical practice by comparing pre and post surveys.

Results: All 7 NPs were satisfied with the course and found the format to work well with their clinical schedules. The course also improved their self-reported comfort in managing critically ill patients in a medical ICU. There was an increase in the mean group score from the pre-to the post-course MCQ (60% vs 73%).

Conclusions: The COVID-19 Critical Care Course (CCCC) for NPs was implemented in our ICU to better prepare for an anticipated second surge. It focused on delivering practical knowledge and skills as learners cared for critically ill COVID-19 patients. In a short period of time, it engaged participants in active learning and allowed them to feel more confident in applying their education.

Keywords: COVID-19; ICU; accelerated curriculum; blended learning; critical care; eLearning.