Emergency situations can either be a time for a clinician to confidently demonstrate their skills or a time where potentially hazardous mistakes for the patient could be made. I can say with confidence that we as Athletic Trainers would do everything in our ability to provide the best care for our patients. The real question still remains: are we really providing the best care to our patients? Spine-boarding, CPR and other skills that are not used in everyday practice are shown to decay over time when not practiced. Another common issue with practicing clinicians is a knowledge gap: people do not realize what they do not know. So what does this mean for our patients? Lack of clinician knowledge can lead to decreased patient outcomes. As clinicians, we need to stay up-to-date on current evidence based practices or we are not actually providing the level of care that we may be led to believe.
As part of my master’s thesis, I developed an educational assessment on various spine-boarding methods through descriptions as well as scenarios. Athletic Trainers, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), Paramedics, as well as all the respective students were included within the participants. The purpose of this study was to assess perceived knowledge and actual knowledge and determine the relationship that may exist. Our research indicates that although clinicians in all disciplines were confident in their pre-test perceived knowledge, they scored poorly on the actual assessment. Following the knowledge assessment, the participants scored their perceived knowledge on spine-boarding lower than their initial assessment. Now that you know about knowledge gaps, what are you going to do to diminish this gap? Seek CEU’s in areas you are not comfortable in. Practice the skills you do not use every day. Keep watching for updated information on spine-boarding and some of the many changes that are coming!
-Beth Neil, LAT, ATC