You really need to tailor the course to your participants and the desired outcomes. More than likely, the desired outcome will be: to prepare competent novice critical care nurses.
We have designed a blended learning program for our hospital that has been very successful for both incumbent staff as well as new grads hired into ICU. We give all participants (critical care naive) the BKAT-7 test on the first day of the course as well as at the completion. Begining results are usually 65-75% with end scores in the low- to mid-80s. With the group that we just finished training, we had average scores jump a whopping 22% from 69 to 91 percent!
We use AACN's ECCO program for all of our didactic content and blend it with 7 classroom sessions which focus on application (case scenarios, hands-on technical skills, etc.) and facility-specific protocols/policies. The classroom sessions are generally grouped:
Day 1: Introduction, orientation to ECCO, BKAT-7, hopes/fears/realities of critical care
Day2: Emotional/spiritual care--care of families, care of self, chaplincy/social work, organ donation/end-of-life, compassionate care
Day 3: Cardiovascular applications--hemodynamic interpretation practice and hands-on, CV case studies
Day 4: Pulmonary applications--hands-on ventilators, case studies, ARDS management
Day 5: Neuro applications--stroke assessment/management, brain death, TBI, case studies
Day 6: Multisystem applications--sepsis management, case studies
Day 7: Wrap-up, review, BKAT-7
We also have breakout sessions so that the participants can focus on some unit-specific content. We have two ICUs with a total of 46 beds and our ED also sends nurses through this course. Obviously, not all content applies to everyone.
We give follow-up BKATs at three and six months to measure retention/progress. Scores have been maintaining or improving nicely with few exceptions.
During this time, participants are in clinical orientation with their preceptor for roughly 300 hours. The classes only meet once a week in order to maximize floor time and to help integrate learning. We attempt--attempt--to provide assignments that focus on the learning for the past week, though as we all know, patient census dictates quite a bit.
Following the orientation, the new nurses have two to three weeks with a resource nurse who takes a full, but light, assignment and is available to help the novice. Following the resource period, the new nurse chooses (mutually) a mentor who will be their advocate/shoulder-to-cry-on for the next year. Usually that relationship has naturally faded to a regular co-worker relationship by the ninth or tenth month.
We call this program "SUCCEED" for "SUccessful Critical Care Entry EDucation" and our retention has been fantastic. Most of these nurses go on to be preceptors, charge nurses, and more after about 18 months.