healthcare professional reviewing medical instructions with patient in lobby
Profiles and Features July 19, 2019

5 Effective Patient Education Tips For RNs

Are you giving patients the right information to ensure peace of mind and continued quality of care?

Patient education is an important aspect to effective nursing care. Whether you’re teaching a new mom how to breastfeed her infant or giving a patient information about the medicine they’ll be taking, ongoing success after treatment is greatly impacted by the nurse’s instruction.

Below are 5 effective tips for patient education you can put into practice to better serve your patients and ensure they have a healthy and happy recovery.

Patient Education: 5 Ways You Can Provide Quality Education

1. Take Advantage of Technology for Disseminating Patient Information

Patient education materials and guidelines are now more accessible than ever thanks to technological advancements. 

Many hospitals have educational resources, which can be customized for the patient and then printed for later reference. Some facilities present these materials as digitized resources on a bedside screen.

Don’t just hand patients a stack of papers and expect them to understand. Go over content with them and answer questions they have while you’re reviewing it.

Susan C. Hull, an independent nursing consultant, stated in the journal American Nurse Today that “technology-enabled support for care coordination before and after a patient’s clinic or hospital visit allows nurses to engage the patient over a much longer time frame.”

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2. Discover Each Patient’s Learning Style

A patient’s overall learning style depends on several factors, including age, culture and medical condition. 

Find out whether they learn best by watching videos, reading materials or just listening to instructions and then practicing them.

Discovering your patient’s preferences for consuming information will help your patient education tremendously.

3. Involve Family Members in Patient Education Whenever Possible

Family members are a critical influence to patient care and advocacy. 

Involving family members in implementing care plans also improves the chances that the instruction given will be utilized.

4. Take into Account the Patient’s Limitations and Strengths

Some patients may have physical, emotional or cognitive limitations that impact their ability to learn and retain new information. 

Effective patient education methods depend on the specific disability, but some suggestions might include:

  • Large print materials for visually impaired patients
  • Visual materials and hands-on instruction for hearing-impaired patients
  • Educating family members or caregivers alongside patients with cognitive impairments

5. Use the Teach-back Method

Beth Stuckey, RN, MS, CNE, an assistant professor of nursing at American Sentinel University, says that it’s easy for nurses to fall into the trap of asking “do you understand?” every so often because most of the time a patient will nod their head yes even if they don’t understand. Instead, she says, nurses can utilize the teach-back method.

The teach-back method involves using two-way dialogue between the nurse and patient, and it lets the nurse reinforce critical patient information. 

When the nurse finishes his/her patient education, they then ask the patient to repeat it back to them in their own words.

“Likewise,” Stuckey says, “when you finish demonstrating a procedure, nurses must ask the patient to demonstrate it on their own.” This technique helps a nurse determine where the gaps in the patient’s knowledge are, so they can help connect the dots.

When nurses implement these tips for patient education, they can help ensure patients have the knowledge required to take care of themselves and ensure their implemented healthcare plan is successful.