Peer-led training and assessment in basic life support for healthcare students: Synthesis of literature review and fifteen years practical experience.

PR Harvey, CV Higenbottam, Andrew Owen, Jonathan Hulme, Julian Bion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: In 1995, the University of Birmingham, UK, School of Medicine and Dentistry replaced lecture-based basic life support (BLS) teaching with a peer-led, practical programme. We present our 15-yr experience of peer-led healthcare undergraduate training and examination with a literature review. METHODS: A literature review of healthcare undergraduate peer-led practical skills teaching was performed though Pubmed. The development of the Birmingham course is described, from its inception in 1995-2011. Training methods include peer-led training and assessment by senior students who complete an European Resuscitation Council-endorsed instructor course. Student assessors additionally undergo training in assessment and communication skills. The course has been developed by parallel research evaluation and peer-reviewed publication.(1,2) Course administration is by an experienced student committee with senior clinician support. Anonymous feedback from the most recent courses and the current annual pass rates are reported. RESULTS: The literature review identified 369 publications of which 28 met our criteria for inclusion. Largely descriptive, these are highly positive about peer involvement in practical skills teaching using similar, albeit smaller, courses to that described below. Currently approximately 600 first year healthcare undergraduates complete the Birmingham course; participant numbers increase annually. Successful completion is mandatory for students to proceed to the second year of studies. First attempt pass rate is 86%, and close to 100% (565/566 students, 99.8%) following re-assessment the same day. 97% of participants enjoyed the course, 99% preferred peer-tutors to clinicians, 99% perceived teaching quality as "good" or "excellent", and felt they had sufficient practice. Course organisation was rated "good" or "excellent" by 91%. Each year 3-4 student projects have been published or presented internationally. The annual cost of providing the course is currently £15,594.70 (Eur 18,410), or approximately £26 (Eur 30) per student. CONCLUSIONS: This large scale, peer-led BLS course demonstrates that such programmes can have excellent outcomes with outstanding participant satisfaction. Peer-tutors and assessors are competent, more available and less costly than clinical staff. Student instructors develop skills in teaching, assessment and appraisal, organisation and research. Sustainability is possible given succession-planning and consistent leadership.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)894-899
Issue number7
Early online date25 Jan 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


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