Newswise — Hospitals can now better personalize onboarding education for critical care and progressive care nurses, thanks to a new resource from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). 

The AACN Knowledge Assessment Tool helps hospitals better identify knowledge gaps and educational needs of nurses new to the unit or new to critical care or progressive care. 

The online assessment randomly generates validated questions in more than 10 areas, including patient management, heart failure, hemodynamics and nutritional support. Different tests assess knowledge for nurses providing care in an intensive care unit (ICU) or progressive care unit (PCU), allowing for further educational customization.

“Successfully onboarding a nurse is crucial to quality patient care, staffing and retention,” said AACN Chief Clinical Officer Vicki Good, DNP, RN, CENP, CPPS. “Orientation is a significant investment of time and resources, and this tool provides an objective way for educators to move beyond checklists and self-reported knowledge to confidently assess an individual nurse’s knowledge.”

Using tailored assessment results, hospital educators can create personalized orientation plans to effectively address specific learning needs.

At the beginning of orientation, the AACN Knowledge Assessment Tool can be used as a pretest to collect baseline assessment data and customize the onboarding education for new hires. For example, a nurse who scores proficient in most areas of the assessment can be assigned specific learning material to improve their knowledge of certain sections, as indicated by their results.

The assessment tool can also be used toward the end of orientation to independently confirm that knowledge gaps and educational needs have been met. 

The AACN Knowledge Assessment Tool aligns with Essentials of Critical Care Orientation (ECCO), an award-winning online educational program and one of AACN’s most popular courses. Since its initial launch in 2002, ECCO has been used at more than 1,100 hospitals and healthcare facilities in the United States and Canada as an integral part of their critical care orientation or to supplement classroom-based education. Over 180,000 nurses have successfully completed the program. 

Jodi Doney, MS, RN, NPD-BC, CV-BC, CNL, a nurse educator at The Ross Heart Hospital, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, uses the ECCO program for critical and progressive care orientation. 

“With this new tool, I can gather baseline knowledge assessment data for new hires in a way that just didn’t exist before,” she said. “This is important information to have up front so that we can personalize the ECCO modules and either let the learner test out completely or assign only the ECCO modules that are necessary.”

Hospitals, health systems and other institutions can purchase the assessment tool as a stand-alone product or bundled with ECCO, with a dynamic tiered-pricing structure based on the number of orientees and other factors.  

The AACN Knowledge Assessment Tool and ECCO are part of AACN’s extensive library of e-learning courses, delivering standard-setting education and expertise that nurses and healthcare organizations can trust. 

Organizations and individuals can learn more about the tool at

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: For more than 50 years, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has been dedicated to acute and critical care nursing excellence. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. AACN is the world’s largest specialty nursing organization, with about 130,000 members and nearly 200 chapters in the United States.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 27071 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656; 949-362-2000;;;