Nursing students blood pressure measurement accuracy during clinical practice

Christopher J. Gordon, Astrid Frotjold, Jacqueline G. Bloomfield


Background: Blood pressure measurement is a complex skill to master and we sought to determine whether nursing students could measure blood pressure accurately on patients during their first clinical placement. We also examined whether clinical facilitator’s subjective rating of nursing student’s competence and confidence was related to blood pressure measurement.

Methods: First year nursing students (n = 105) blood pressure measurement was determined at the end of 40 hours of clinical placement. Clinical facilitators (n = 17) assessed blood pressure accuracy of the students using a double-headed stethoscope on clinical patients and rated the student’s confidence and competence levels in blood pressure measurement across the clinical practicum.

Results: Bland Altman plots revealed that there was no systematic bias and that that majority of student’s blood pressure readings were within ±4 mmHg of the clinical facilitators. Blood pressure measurement was not significantly different between students and clinical facilitators (systolic: p = .29; diastolic: p = .96). Statistically significant correlations between clinical facilitator’s ratings of student confidence, competence and blood pressure accuracy were found.

Conclusions: These findings show that blood pressure accuracy in nursing students during their first clinical placement is high. Clinical facilitators can also correctly assess student’s blood pressure accuracy using subjective ratings of competence and confidence, which may be sufficient to determine clinical proficiency.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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