10 Hours 30 Mins of CPD

Clinical Nursing Assessment Skills

Need for program

Clinical assessment is a core nursing function and the means by which nurses commence the process of care planning. It enables nurses to document their observations, providing a framework to guide and measure their care. It is essential that nurses remain well skilled in performing clinical assessment and have access to up-to-date and evidence-based education provided by expert clinical nurses.

Aims of Program

The aim of this seminar is to offer all nurses an opportunity to update their clinical assessment skills. There will be a particular focus on major body systems. Part of this program will focus on skills to critically analyse assessment data for use in the development of a meaningful care plan.

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this program it is expected that the participants will be able to:

  • Determine how to prepare a person physically and psychosocially for a clinical assessment
  • Correlate the importance of accurate and detailed data collection and documentation with achieving optimal clinical outcomes
  • Revise the anatomy and physiology of all systems covered and be cognisant of common symptoms associated with diseases of these systems
  • Critique and have knowledge of a range of assessment tools, and demonstrate their effective use and application in the clinical setting.

Program schedule

Day 1

8:30am - Registration and Refreshments


Cornerstone of Nursing Care – Clinical Assessment

This introductory session will highlight the importance of the holistic nature of nursing assessment. Clinical assessment is acknowledged as a core nursing skill, which, when used as a baseline tool, is the key to the development of an effective care plan. In this session you will reflect on the purpose of clinical assessments and how they contribute to your professional care, reviewing the nursing process and considering the following questions:

  • Should a clinical nursing assessment be performed on all patients?
  • What data should be sourced prior, during and after a clinical assessment?
  • Top-to-toe – the clinical interview – how to ensure the interview is reliable, appropriate and who should be included?
  • What documentation should be completed?


Use of Assessment Tools

There are a range of instruments and tools that can be used to assist nurses to perform a clinical assessment. This short session will briefly look at the purpose of these tools and where their value lies in a clinical assessment.

10:30am - Morning Tea and Coffee


A Breath of Air – Assessment of the Respiratory System

The main purpose of respiratory assessment is to ascertain how well the gases of oxygen and carbon dioxide are being exchanged. This session will review the underlying principles of respiratory assessment. At the conclusion of the session, you will have time to practice listening to normal respirations. Session one: healthy respirations

  • Review of the normal anatomy and physiology of the respiratory system
  • What factors can distort healthy lung function e.g. obesity?
  • How to perform a systematic assessment of the respiratory system
  • Nurses should listen to as many healthy chest sounds as possible – demonstration and practice of the correct use of the stethoscope and an opportunity to listen to healthy
  • Stethoscopes are provided or you can bring your own for this session

12:30pm - Lunch Break and Networking


Assessment of the Respiratory System – Disease States

This session focuses on the diseases of the respiratory system and their clinical presentation. You will consider what happens to the ‘look’ of a person with certain respiratory diseases and how and why this may affect your assessment findings. Session two: abnormal respirations.

  • Use of related medical terminology and how to document your findings
  • Common abnormal findings and why they occur
  • Common disease states
  • Examining sputum

3:00pm - Afternoon Tea and Coffee


Cardiac Assessment – Introduction

This session reviews the aims and purpose of cardiac assessment and, in particular, sets the scene for the assessments that will be discussed on day two.

  • Review of normal anatomy and physiology of the cardiac system
  • Discussion of key aspects of healthy heart function

4:30pm - Close of Day One of Program

Day 2

9:00am - Commencement of Day Two


Cardiac Assessment – Sounds, Signs and Symptoms

Heart disease is increasingly common in our society. This is due to multiple factors: the ageing of our population, lifestyle issues and also the relationship between cardiac disease and other prevalent chronic illnesses such as diabetes. In this session, you will refresh your knowledge about the underlying principles of performing a cardiac assessment.

  • What do your first observations tell you?
  • How to perform a systematic assessment of heart function
  • Demonstrate and practice of the correct use of the stethoscope when listening for heart sounds
  • Learn what a healthy heart should sound like

This session will include skills supervision and feedback.

10:30am - Morning Tea and Coffee


‘Lub-Dub’ – Documentation of Cardiac Assessment

In this session, you will revise cardiac terminology to assist you with your documentation. As you learn the terminology you will be able to identify a range of cardiac malfunctions.

  • How to correctly document the normal and abnormal results of your assessment
  • What is meant common cardiac terms including murmurs, clicks and rubs
  • What are S1 and S2?


Neurological Assessment – Window to the Soul?

Performing a rapid, effective neurological assessment can be life-saving. With the advent of ever more sophisticated brain-imaging tools, we are now able to understand more about brain function. This session will update you on the normal anatomy and physiology of the neurological system.

  • How to correctly document the normal and abnormal results of your assessment
  • What is meant common cardiac terms including murmurs, clicks and rubs
  • What are S1 and S2?

12:30pm - Lunch Break and Networking


Neurological Assessment – Using the Glasgow Coma Scale and Other Tools

A neurological assessment needs to demonstrate objective reasoning and critical thinking. As the neurological system is so complex, and involves every aspect of human function, we have many tools available to assist, including the Glasgow Coma Scale. In this session, you will systematically review the elements of the scale and other assessment tools and techniques, and consider their implications in regard to neurological function.

  • Review of elements of the Glasgow Coma Scale
  • A demonstration of some specific neurological assessments
  • Interpretation of results – a look at what the score is really telling you
  • What other tools exist that can assist you to perform this complex assessment?

3:00pm - Afternoon Tea and Coffee


Bringing the Clinical Picture Together

This short session will enable participants to discuss how to assimilate the data gained from the assessment so that it can be used for clinical decision making purposes. Time permitting, assessment of other body systems may also be discussed.


Final Practical Session

This final session will enable participants to practice some of the clinical skills already discussed and any additional skills identified such as abdominal examination.

4:30pm - Close of Program and Evaluations