Lesson Plan Industry Sector
Health Science and Medical Technology

Lesson Plan Originally Created By: Tina Jackson

Pulse Oximetry

Part of Unit: Vital Signs

Lesson Plan Overview / Details

In this lesson, students will learn the importance of pulse oximetry to further assess a patient's respiratory status. Students will also use a pulse oximeter, document findings, and assess whether or not those findings are within normal limits.

Lesson Time

1 Class Period
56 Minutes

Objectives and Goals

  • Students will be able to discuss the importance of pulse oximetry as a respiratory assessment tool.
  • Students will be able to discuss terms related to respiratory status and pulse oximetry.
  • Students will demonstrate the understanding of pulse oximetry through passing of a skills test.
  • Students will demonstrate use of a pulse oximeter.
  • Students will correctly document oxygen saturation readings on the vital sign record sheet.

Activities in this Lesson

  • Display or write on whiteboard:

    “You are preparing a patient for a doctor’s visit. You observe that s/he takes extra breaths between words as s/he replies. You also notice that s/he is taking a long time to respond and has a look of confusion on his/her face in response to your questions?”  Answer these two questions:

    1. What do you think the problem may be?
    2. What do you do?

    Allow students 3-5 minutes to answer then poll the class for answers.

  • Poll the class for answers to the two questions. (possible answers to #1 include stroke, asthma, congestive heart failure, anxiety. Possible answers to #2 include take vitals signs, give them oxygen, call the doctor.)

    Explain that they are all correct on some level. Explain the use, simplicity in technique, and importance of pulse oximetry. Explain that students will look at some terms related to pulse oximetry and then will demonstrate the skill of applying/using a pulse oximeter.  Students will be  paired and role play as nurse/patient and assess and document each other’s vital signs including pulse oximeter readings (O2 saturation).

    1. Print one key terms list for each student.
    2. Display powerpoint of key terms. Allow students to take notes off of PPT. Explain terms, briefly cite examples.

    Resources and Materials

    • Pulse Oximetry Key Terms List [ Download ]
    • Pulse Oximetry Key Terms Slides [ Download ]
    1. Go step-by-step explaining criteria for use of the pulse oximeter. Print slides in outline format for each student.
    2. Show demo of pulse oximeter.
    3. Discuss normal ranges.
    4. Discuss importance of use as an assessment tool.
    5. Discuss limitations of use.
    6. Explain the rubric that will be used to assess the use of the pulse oximeter.
    7. Answer any questions.

    Resources and Materials

  • Poll the class for understanding by calling on some students randomly and asking for volunteers to answer other questions.

    Demonstrate the use of the pulse oximeter on a student as students watch.

    1. Pair students.
    2. Allow students time to get vitals signs equipment.
    3. Students are left to obtain vital signs, including pulse oximeter, on one another.
    4. Monitor the room for correct technique and ensure that all students are participating.
    5. Observe for infection control (students wash handsor use hand sanitizer defore starting procedure; use gloves if patient has broken skin.)
    6. Begin checkoffs using rubrics.
  • 1. Once students put supplies away and wash their hands (or use hand sanitizer), hand out the rubrics with scores.

    2. Discuss what students did well (in general, avoid putting students down or on the spot) and where room for improvement is needed.

    3. Explain that we will continue to practice as part of the vital sign assessment piece.


Assessment Types:
Rubrics, Demonstrations, Observations,