BP measurement training needs a breakthrough. This might be it.

Timothy M. Smith , Contributing News Writer

What’s the news: The AMA is making grants to health-profession schools at five American universities to help ensure more future physicians and other health professionals get standardized training on how to consistently take accurate blood pressure measurements.

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The funding will support training for nearly 5,000 future physicians, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists and dietitians using the modules from the AMA’s “Student BP Measurement Essentials Learning Series.”

The $20,000 grants will go to medical and other health-professions schools at:

  • Johns Hopkins University.
  • NSU Florida, in Fort Lauderdale.
  • Stony Brook University, in New  York.
  • University of Pittsburgh.
  • University of Washington.

These grant recipients will document and evaluate the modules and report to the AMA on what they have learned to help guide future dissemination of the training series. Several funded projects focus meaningfully on health equity through significant community engagement or deploying training in clinical sites which serve populations experiencing health inequities.

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Why it’s important: “This is a critical effort given that the percentage of American adults with hypertension who have their blood pressure under control has significantly declined in recent years,” said AMA President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, who is senior associate dean, tenured professor of anesthesiology and director of the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

More than 122 million U.S. adults have high blood pressure, and accurate BP measurement is a crucial step in improving hypertension control.

“Despite the fact that inaccurate blood pressure measurements are linked to errors in diagnosing and treating high blood pressure, and can lead to more adverse outcomes, medical and health-profession students are not currently receiving consistent training in BP measurement,” Dr. Ehrenfeld noted.

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Research (PDF) has shown that the training students get in BP measurement is often brief and also inconsistent across health profession schools. What’s more, students’ BP measurement skills often decay in the months following initial training—which is why guidelines recommend periodic re-training—yet many schools do not offer a BP measurement refresher course.

To help fill these gaps in standardized training, the AMA launched its “Student BP Measurement Essentials” e-learning series in 2021 and collaborated with five medical schools to implement the modules in their 2021 curricula. The AMA used the learnings from that rollout to add new modules and improve existing ones, all which are available for free on the AMA Ed Hub™. They are:

Learn more: Improving the health of the nation is a top priority for the AMA, which has been working over the past decade to improve health outcomes associated with cardiovascular disease, including through the AMA MAP™ Hypertension program. That evidence-based quality improvement pogram provides a clear path to significant, sustained improvements in blood-pressure control.