Long-term patient outcomes depend on patient education (Morris, 2022). However, nurses balance a variety of duties. They frequently care for patients with significant medical needs while working on units with inadequate staff. Teaching can be challenging to incorporate into a busy schedule. In less-than-ideal situations, nurses frequently need to use their creative thinking skills to instruct patients.
There are, however, several strategies to enhance patient education. Three nursing professionals talk about the importance of patient teaching in hospitals and how nurses can incorporate patient education into their skill sets.
The Function of Nurses in Patient Education
Because patient education can contribute to better patient outcomes, hospital and nursing management must value it. By enhancing a patient’s knowledge and confidence in the abilities they will need after being discharged from the hospital, nurses play a crucial role in patient education. These abilities can get a patient ready for discharge.
10 Ways to Improve Patient Education by Nurses and Nurse Leaders
1. Simple is best.
Healthcare workers like nurses can communicate in a unique language. For a nurse, terminologies like myocardial infarction, cerebral embolism, dorsiflexion, and ganglion may be commonplace, but not for a patient. These phrases need to be left at the entrance during patient education.
Don’t use abbreviations or language from the medical field. For instance, a CBC might seem straightforward enough, but make sure you give your patient a “full blood count.”
2. Documentation for Education in the Patient’s Native Language
The degree of health literacy is unrelated to the degree of literacy. Even with high comprehension abilities, a person may struggle to comprehend medical facts to make wise judgments.
Here are a few strategies for making patient education simple to comprehend.
- Give the patient precise information and directions.
- With a patient who is just learning about the disease, avoid going into great detail regarding the disease’s processes.
- Make sure to record the information so the patient can review it at a later time if necessary.
- Keep things simple because the patient can feel overloaded if they receive too much information all at once.
3. Think about a patient’s communication difficulties
You can also encounter patients who have other communication difficulties in addition to those whose first language is not English. Teaching patients with sensory impairments should be a part of your patient education strategies.
People with cognitive problems, those with vision or hearing disabilities, and others may face obstacles. Planning, having compassion, and being patient can help nurses get beyond communication problems.
4. Apply the Teach-Back Technique
Reevaluation is critical in all of your life’s decisions (ER, 2020). Despite evidence to the contrary, many doctors do not employ this technique. They use time constraints or the possibility that patients will be offended as justifications.
This technique is also known as “closing the loop.” You can ask the patient to repeat something after you’ve finished a brief bit of information in their own words. For instance, you might ask, “Just to be sure I was clear, could you tell me why you’ll be taking insulin?” after describing how insulin functions in the body.
By having your patient repeat back precise information, you can be sure they comprehend and close any communication gaps.
5. Make a note of significant information
Patients who experience pain, nausea, or breathing problems will find it challenging to acquire new ideas or recall specifics. The body reacts to stress in this way. To prevent the loss of important patient education, Kotte recommends nurses provide clear instructions for patients to refer to later.
Additionally, nurses ought to provide patients with contact information for persons they can call if they have issues. Patients benefit from having a family member present so that they can, if necessary, receive re-education.
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6. Promotion of Health through Constant Patient Education
Some of the lifestyle adjustments that patients must undertake to promote their health are difficult. If a patient is unaware of how their conduct affects their health and wellness, they are unlikely to make changes in their diet, stop using tobacco products, or consume less or no alcohol. According to Kotte, patients can be at the pre-contemplative stage of transition.
7. A Floor with Full Staff Supports Patient Education
Patient safety, outcome, and education are directly impacted by nurse-to-patient ratios. A high ratio may make it more difficult for a nurse to deliver safe care, which will have an impact on patient outcomes. Patient acuity, technology, monitoring, expertise, and the physical structure of the unit all affect safe ratios.
8. Telehealth Expands Nursing Education Possibilities
During the epidemic, telemedicine nursing services played a crucial role, and they will continue to do so. The promotion of technology use is a problem that nurses must solve.
Patient education is subject to some telehealth restrictions, such as communicating via a camera. Healthcare professionals and telehealth nurses should practice their telehealth communication skills and get comfortable with the technology.
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9. Managing Change Expectations
Many clinical nurses have suffered burnout because of the high level of stress they operate under. An emotional, bodily, and mental condition of fatigue is known as burnout. Long hours spent caring for patients who have poor outcomes, a sense of loss of control, and insufficient support are common triggers. Anxiety, a strained immune system, and extreme weariness are all effects of burnout.
Controlling your expectations for patient outcomes is one strategy for combating nurse burnout. To encourage your patients to choose a healthier lifestyle decision, it’s imperative to educate them. But Kotte advises that you can do this without taking an emotional interest in how your patient does.
We can better manage our expectations and, in the end, deliver the greatest patient care, she says, by realizing that your patient might not be prepared to make adjustments.
10. Offer educational materials in many formats
Each person has a unique way of learning. Your preferred method of learning influences how much knowledge you can take in and use in your decision-making.
There are four fundamental types of learning.
- The Visual Learner
Take in via seeing and listening.
Perform better when given written instructions, illustrations, flow charts, and diagrams volume-up icon
- Hearing Learners
retaining knowledge verbally rather than through reading
can deepen the understanding by voicing it aloud
Make use of the “teach-back” approach hand symbol
- Kinesthetic and tactile learners
Touching things and manipulating objects are tactile experiences.
may find it difficult to endure demonstrations
of key-pencil icon
- Writing and Reading learners
Understanding content is improved via verbal expression
Ask your patient how they prefer to learn as you get ready to interact with them. Most people are aware of their preferences for lectures, reading material, or learning new tools.
By attending to your patients’ requirements, you can raise their level of education and perhaps even the result. Laser counsels nurses to consider a variety of instructional resources when choosing what they might employ.
Gayle Morris (2022). 10 Ways Nurses and Nurse Leaders Can Improve Patient Education.
ER (2020). How to Make Progress on Your Goals When You Feel Unmotivated?