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Development of an educational program using ultrasonography in vascular access for nurse practitioner students

28 January 2021
Volume 30 · Issue 2



Ultrasonography is an important tool for vascular access practice.

Ultrasound should be used for vascular access assessment and insertion.

Ultrasonography should be incorporated into formal nursing education curriculum and simulation training.


This study analyzed nurse practitioner students' knowledge of ultrasound-guided vascular access after the implementation of an educational and simulation course.


Nurses' knowledge of ultrasound-guided peripheral intravenous catheter placement was analyzed using a ten-item questionnaire both before and after course. A sample of bachelor's degree-prepared nurses voluntarily participated in this study. Ultrasonography simulation was carried out with two handheld ultrasound devices and two ultrasound blocks.


The findings demonstrated that there is a statistically significant increased comprehension of ultrasoundguided vascular access after simulation courses.


This study illuminates the need for formal education both in academic curriculum and through simulation to improve ultrasound-guided vascular access knowledge for patient care.

Vascular access provides the introduction of a device for administering therapy, obtaining blood for testing, or removing substances from the bloodstream. A vascular access device (VAD) is defined as a catheter device inserted into the patient's bloodstream for infusion or diagnostic purposes. One type of VAD is the peripheral intravenous catheter (PIVC), a small flexible tube inserted into the bloodstream for infusion therapy.1 For the purposes of this study, vascular access will focus on the peripheral intravenous catheter.

Nearly all patients admitted to the acute care hospital setting have some type of vascular access procedure. It is estimated that over 350 million PIVCs are inserted in the United States annually.2 Venous access is assessed through inspection, palpation, and visualization technology.3 Visualization technology includes ultrasonography, which uses high-frequency ultrasound waves to assess vasculature.2 Ultrasound improves PIVC placement when alternative methods have failed; however, it has a steep learning curve, requiring training and practice for proficiency. Because of this curve, many health care institutions across the United States have developed vascular access teams (VATs), which use intravenous ultrasonography in their practice. A VAT is a group of health care professionals whose primary role is to assess, insert, manage, perform surveillance, and analyze VADs.3,4 VATs have shown a positive impact by improved patient safety outcomes, advanced quality of care, and streamlining resource utilization.35 Of note, VATs have demonstrated successful comprehension in understanding the importance of using ultrasonography in clinical practice to improve success and outcomes for vascular procedures.4,5

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