Are your UAPs well-trained? How to find out

Hospital uses questionnaire to improve training

While same-day surgery managers may debate the most appropriate use of unlicensed assistive personnel (UAPs), they agree on one thing: the importance of adequate training.

At Christiana Hospital of the Medical Center of Delaware in Newark, Shirley Fleegle, RN, CNOR, assistant nurse manager/patient care coordinator, decided to ask nursing assistants whether they thought they were well-prepared for their duties in the OR.

Fleegle devised a confidential questionnaire that the nursing assistants, housekeepers, and other UAPs completed. (See sample, above.) "A lot of them felt they needed more education and preparation to do their job," she says.

Within the past year, the role of the nursing assistants had expanded, and Fleegle realized that the changes may have been too great. "Up until a year ago, the only thing our nursing assistants did was transport patients and do shave preps," she says. "We got them completely out of the transportation mode and into the operating room."

In response to the questionnaire, Fleegle reduced some of the tasks required of the UAPs and reviewed and improved the content of the bimonthly continuing education sessions.

"For a while, [nursing assistants] were pulling sutures, but we stopped that," says Fleegle. "They were pulling too many sutures. We were having this bucketful of sutures to put away at the end of every case."

Now, nursing assistants help nurses position patients, clean the rooms between cases, run errands such as picking up X-rays, and check case carts, among other duties. They received a 16-week orientation; then they worked with a preceptor for another eight weeks.

Conducting the questionnaire helped The Medical Center of Delaware focus its UAP training program, says Fleegle. "I think it’s very important that UAPs be very well-trained and well-educated. We were able to determine what their comfort level was and what further education they needed and what they didn’t need."