The patients in the critical care unit at West Suburban Hospital, Oak Park, Ill, have complex needs, which require their nurses to have a high level of knowledge and skill. To support the lifelong learning necessary for critical care nurses to meet the complex needs of these critically ill patients, we developed a “topic-of-the-month” strategy.

Because the pressures of our faced-paced healthcare environment are compounded by the multiple demands of trying to juggle home life and work, we sought ways to incorporate our professional learning needs into our daily work routines. The idea of using a topic for each month came from one of the staff RNs, who saw value in it being a team effort so that everyone felt some ownership to keep the program going. Everyone recognized that the approach could be an effective mechanism to support development of nursing competencies.

We identify topics in advance so that...

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