Purpose: The purpose of the implemented initiative is to enhance annual competencies of clinical staff in the medical/surgical areas through innovative validation methods.

Methods: Clinical Nurse Educator’s (CNE’s) identified a need for change with annual competencies for clinical staff. The educators brainstormed new concepts for creating competencies. In collaboration with the Unit Based Practice Council (UBPC), a learning needs assessment was conducted in each of four medical-surgical units. As a result, unit-based competencies were identified. By using a teamwork approach, the concept of an escape room activity was adapted and tailored to meet the needs of competency validation. A set up of different competency skill stations were designed separately for both Registered Nurses (RNs) and Clinical Partners (CPs). Groups of 6 to 8 staff participated and completed the activity within a one and a half hour time frame. A pretest and post test were conducted to measure knowledge before and after completion of the activity and an evaluation form was completed by all staff.

Findings: A total number of 120 RNs and 45 CPs were able to complete the activity in a total of 29 and 10 sessions respectively. All sessions were provided in a period of 4 months. By the end of each session, RNs completed twelve and CPs completed five competencies. There was a significant improvement from pre to post test. The pretest average scores measuring knowledge for the RNs were only 50% and posttest increased to 91%. Additionally, the CPs pretest average scores were 42% and posttest increased to 92%. Staff evaluations determined a 100% satisfaction rate with the activity in which the main statements denoted innovation as the reason for such contentment.

Discussion: Clinical Nurse Educators still face challenges with incorporating learning that is joyful, meaningful, and still effective for the staff. In trying to develop innovative ways of measuring competency of clinical staff in the medical-surgical areas, the nurse educators explored ways to include non-traditional strategies for engaging the team through active learning. The nurse educators searched for modalities to demonstrate competency, improve nurse satisfaction, bridge the generational gaps of the staff, while saving cost associated with annual education. The escape room competency validation approach proved to be a successful method. It was a strategy through which staff demonstrated skill proficiency and teamwork in an entertaining setting. By the end of the activity staff felt glad that they were not only able to show competency in their role, but also reinforce current knowledge. All staff expressed motivation and desire to complete the activity again in the future.

Implications for Practice: Staff competency is essential to provide adequate care to patients. Validating staff’s ability to perform skills within their role has traditionally been designed based on staff’s lack of proficiency in performing a designated skill. Although these skills are evaluated on a set frequency basis, completing this process has brought dissatisfaction. Clinical nurse educators need to find new learning strategies to engage active learning all while increasing the level of competency. The escape room proved to be one strategy that did increase competency and overall satisfaction and may positively reflect an improvement of clinical outcomes.

Publication Date


Presented At:

14th Annual BHSF Research Conference

Content Type


Open Access

Available to all.