Background: Nurses represent the largest sector of the workforce caring for people with cardiovascular disease in Europe. Little is known about the post-registration education provided to nurses working within this specialty. The aim of this descriptive cross sectional survey was to describe the structure, content, teaching, learning, assessment and evaluation methods used in post-registration cardiovascular nurse education programmes in Europe.
Method: A 24-item researcher generated electronic questionnaire was sent to nurse representatives from 23 European countries. Items included questions about cardiovascular registered nurse education programmes.
Results: Forty-nine respondents from 17 European countries completed questionnaires. Respondents were typically female (74%) and educated at Masters (50%) or doctoral (39%) level. Fifty-one percent of the cardiovascular nursing education programmes were offered by universities either at bachelor or masters level. The most frequently reported programme content included cardiac arrhythmias (93%), heart failure (85%) and ischaemic heart disease (83%). The most common teaching mode was face-to-face lectures (85%) and/or seminars (77%). A variety of assessment methods were used with an exam or knowledge test being the most frequent. Programme evaluation was typically conducted through student feedback (95%).
Conclusion: There is variability in the content, teaching, learning and evaluation methods in post-registration cardiovascular nurse education programmes in Europe. Cardiovascular nurse education would be strengthened with a stronger focus upon content that reflects current health challenges faced in Europe. A broader view of cardiovascular disease to include stroke and peripheral vascular disease is recommended with greater emphasis on prevention, rehabilitation and the impact of health inequalities.