Patient education is a crucial part of patient care and also a nurse’s primary responsibility. Patient education not only accelerates the healing process, but it also reduces the chances of patient re-hospitalization. Thus, nurses need to use effective patient education strategies to help their patients manage treatments independently as they embark on the road to recovery.
However, teaching patients is not easy because of a lack of educational resources and a myriad of complex medical jargon. Whether you are teaching a new mother about neonatal care or an adult with a chronic condition, your words need to reach the patient’s mind to be effective.
So, if you’re a nurse struggling to educate patients effectively, we’ve listed a few tips that can help you master the role of an expert patient educator.
Gain more knowledge and skills
Ensure you are well-equipped with advanced knowledge and specialized skills to help your patients. This shouldn’t be a problem for senior nurses with years of experience and schooling on their resumes. But if you’re a registered nurse, your knowledge level and skills may be limited. Such limitations may hamper your ability to provide effective teaching and counseling to your patient. Thus, enhance your knowledge and hone your skills by acquiring more education.
Although, enrolling in a study program will add to your already hectic schedule. But we have a solution to ease your academic woes. Google a top-ranked online RN to BSN program and enroll in one you find most suitable. This way, you can conveniently upskill to become a better nurse and patient educator.
Prioritize patient education over other tasks
When it comes to patient care, nurses need to cover several aspects. These include administering treatment, filing charts, taking rounds, and overseeing health status to ensure the provision of a full continuum of care. With these many tasks at hand, teaching patients how to look after themselves can easily slip out of a nurse’s mind.
However, you can make time for your patients by handing over minor tasks to other medical aides. Any other worker can perform the minor tasks, but effective patient education rests in the hands of a nurse as they share an empathetic bond with their patients.
Identify your patients’ learning styles
Your mode of information delivery greatly affects how the patients receive and process information. Some patients are fast learners, while others may not be good with simple instructions. The most common barriers to their learning may include language, education, culture, mode of teaching, and even misinformation people mostly get from the internet, friends, etc. These may cause learning simple procedures like taking an insulin shot much more difficult.
Thus, it is your job to create a conducive learning environment and make their learning effective. Start with the identification of patients’ learning styles. Every person learns differently. Some are visual learners, others are auditory learners, and many learn best by reading or writing. Identify the learning styles of your patients and provide individualized education accordingly.
Speak in a way your patient can understand
Effective communication can work wonders for your patients’ health. But if your patient can’t comprehend whatever you say to them, you are at fault. So, you must talk to them in a way they can understand.
Using a lot of medical jargon or speaking in a different language than theirs may also affect patient education. So, you must acknowledge that not everyone is fluent in English or the language you use to communicate. Thus, use simple terms to explain their health status. Also, be mindful of your language while talking to your patients and adapt to their language.
Make use of educational technology
Technology has provided access to an endless number of educational resources. With this opportunity, you can create customized educational booklets for your patients with the touch of a button. You can guide more educated patients to follow health-related blogs specifically designed to educate and assist patients.
Also, you can encourage your patients with chronic illnesses to join group therapy sessions online or in person. Ensure that whatever you do for teaching is individualized to cater to the patient’s needs. Don’t just provide them a stack of papers for self-care to read on their own. Instead, review them with your patient and help them understand the instructions, and ask for any queries.
Use the teach-back method
While instructing patients about their condition and related aspects, they will respond like they understand everything. However, such responses are likely to be inaccurate. This may be because they might be embarrassed to say they didn’t get a thing or might think they understood only to forget later. Whatever the reason, this negligence is sure to land your patient in trouble.
Thus, to make sure your patients grasp what you tell them before discharge, ask them to repeat the instructions back to you. If you still doubt their understanding, ask them to re-instruct their family or friends in a comprehendible way. This way, you can clear their confusion and guide them better.
Patient education is one of the most crucial aspects of patient care. Without a strong focus on this aspect, patients are likely to get re-hospitalized because of insufficient and inappropriate self-care after discharge. As a nurse, it is your utmost responsibility to guide patients about their diagnosis, treatment structure, and aftercare. You can use a few effective tips to educate your patients with much less effort. For example, enhancing your knowledge, prioritizing patient education over other tasks, using educational technology, and adapting to patients’ learning styles. Incorporate these few tips in your nursing practice for delivering effective patient education.