Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work

Scholarly project

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Nursing




Emily Nowak


Patient acuity in the acute care setting continues to increase in complexity necessitating competency in high-level skills for all new nursing employees. As the experienced workforce ages, nursing shortages are becoming more prevalent, and more new graduate nurses are being hired into the acute care setting than ever before (Chesnutt & Everhart, 2007). This includes specialty areas such as the post anesthesia care unit (PACU) (Clifford, 2010a; Elliotte, 2010). Historically significant clinical expertise was the expectation for practice in a critical care unit, however, current hiring practices are requiring little to no clinical experience. As nurse educators are being called upon to develop improved orientation for new nursing staff, current nursing staff are also requesting increased continuing education opportunities as they see their roles shift and expand. Meeting the educational needs of new and continuing nursing staff is an essential component to ensuring competent practice and patient safety.

In this scholarly project, a graduate nurse educator student at St. Catherine University collaborated with an educator at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare (Gillette) to provide PACU nurses the educational resources and skills they need to be competent in their positions. The goal of this project was to design a critical care course module to be used as continuing education for current PACU staff as well as for new staff within the context of their orientation. Phase I of this project was to form modules that focused on critical thinking, critical care skills, and emergent situation scenarios for the current staff as part of the required annual continuing education for the perianesthesia nurses.