The American Medical Association (AMA) announced a new effort aimed at ensuring future physicians and health care professionals in the U.S. are uniformly trained on how to consistently take accurate blood pressure (BP) measurements.
"We know that inaccurate blood pressure measurements are linked to errors in diagnosing and treating high blood pressure, and may lead to more adverse outcomes, yet medical and health profession students are not currently receiving consistent training in BP measurement," said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, M.D. "The AMA's new series of online education modules addresses the current lack of a standardized curriculum on evidence-based blood pressure measurement techniques offered at health care schools nationwide, including medical, nursing, physician assistant, medical assistant, and pharmacy. We believe this step is critical given that the percentage of American adults who have their blood pressure under control is significantly declining."
Experts point to accurate BP measurement as an important step to improve hypertension control for the more than 120 million U.S. adults with high BP. While measuring BP is a common procedure and BP guidelines recommend periodic re-training, research shows that student training in BP measurement is often brief, with varying training models among health care schools. Additionally, some health care schools do not provide any training on self-measured blood pressure (SMBP), which is an important component of care for patients with hypertension. And, despite research highlighting a decline in students' BP measurement skills in the months following initial training, many health care schools do not currently offer a BP measurement refresher course. The AMA's new "Student BP Measurement Essentials" series--available for free on the AMA Ed HubTM--offers three modules to help address these gaps in training, including:
- BP Measurement Essentials: Student Edition- Taken during initial clinical skills (e.g., vital signs) training, this module will help students understand the importance of accurate BP measurement, how to properly prepare and position a patient for BP measurements, perform BP measurements using a variety of devices, and learn about SMBP.
- SMBP Essentials: Student Edition- Taken later in school once students become more familiar with foundational BP care, this module provides students with a deeper understanding of SMBP--including how to choose the proper equipment and perform SMBP measurements accurately and identify resources to help patients measure their own BP correctly.
- BP Measurement Refresher: Student Edition- This module, which is designed to be taken before students begin clinical experiences and repeated as needed during clinical experiences, provides students with a refresher on preparing and positioning a patient for BP measurement and performing BP measurements using different devices.
To expedite adoption of the new BP measurement training series, the AMA is collaborating with five medical schools--the majority of which serve a student body where one or more groups of students have been historically under-represented in medicine, including Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine, Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Morehouse School of Medicine, UC Davis School of Medicine, and UNC School of Medicine. Each school plans to incorporate the modules into their fall 2021 curriculum. The AMA will quickly adapt learnings from the fall rollout to expand adoption of the modules across all U.S. health care schools in 2022.
"This effort is part of AMA's ongoing commitment to drive the future of medicine by reimagining medical education, training and lifelong learning--ensuring medical students are equipped to provide care in the rapidly-evolving health care environment given the increased use of telehealth and home blood pressure monitoring," said Dr. Bailey.
In 2019, the AMA and the American Heart Association (AHA) co-developed an e-learning module, Achieving Accuracy: BP Measurement, to provide health care professionals with guideline-recommended training on proper BP measurement.
Improving the health of the nation is a top priority for the AMA. The AMA has been working over the past eight years to help improve health outcomes associated with cardiovascular disease, and will continue to further these efforts to address the growing burden of high blood pressure in the United States.