01.03 Community Health Education

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Community Health Patient Education (Cheat Sheet)

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Hi guys! Welcome to Community Health Education. So educating the public is the biggest part of the job in community health. With that being said, it’s most important that we know our audience and have a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t. So in this lesson we’ll talk about what we need to know before we start educating, and then also what needs to happen so we know it was successful. So, let’s get started! 

So what are learning styles?  These are the way we learn best. The easiest way to remember the different learning styles is VARK. Visual, Auditory, Reading, and Kinesthetic. I’m sure some of you have used these in reference to your own personal learning style. Everyone has one and sometimes we have to work to figure out which style our patients own. So visual learners use images, concept maps, brain maps, drawings, any visual aid that helps them piece concepts together. Auditory learners use music and sounds to help them out. Ever see those videos on Youtube where the teacher is singing or rapping to students? They’re pretty catchy. How did we learn the ABCs? Does anyone just speak them or do we all just sing the song? At some point we were all auditory learners, right? Now, reading/writing. Pretty self-explanatory? These are the students that prefer using pamphlets and outlines. Then we have kinesthetic learners. I’m one of those. These are the people who need to do it to understand it. I can’t connect the dots on a lecture about trach care if I haven’t done it in person. So like I said these are styles everyone has. When we are looking to educate patients we have to know which style appeals best to make sure we are connecting the dots appropriately. We don’t want to make things so difficult that they can’t be compliant and in charge of their own care in the community.

Learning domains are the categories that describe different levels of learning. Each domain has its own way of processing information. So the cognitive domain describes our knowledge and understanding of the topic. it’s our ability to take in information and process it accordingly. The psychomotor domain works on our ability to use our motor skills with information. Again, think about the learning lab  and how you facilitate that hands-on experience. Now the affective domain is about emotions and feelings and this domain requires an awareness of your feelings on a topic. So take someone just diagnosed with cancer. Their ability to learn is based on their emotions surrounding the diagnosis and everything that comes with it.

Ok, so how do we incorporate all that into patient education? How do we use it to figure out what to teach? This is where needs assessments come in. Whether you realize it or not, you are performing a needs assessment on every patient you come into contact with. So what is it? The entire purpose is to identify the patient’s needs, barriers, learning style and readiness to learn. The patient’s needs are those things that are essential to their learning. We want to know their level of education, what they know about the current topic, what specific issues or questions they have, their goals and the resources they have available to meet their goals. This is baseline data you want to know. If you give a patient a pamphlet on diabetes but they can’t read, have you educated them properly? No. If you teach the patient the ins and outs of diabetes, but you haven’t put it in layman’s terms or addressed the patient’s questions and concerns, have you done a disservice? Yes. The point of the education is to promote well-being and awareness. How aware can someone be when they haven’t received the proper training? Now let’s discuss the barriers. What is keeping the patient from understanding what you’re attempting to teach them? You definitely want to know this and they kind of interrelate to the needs when we say literacy issues and access to resources. But we also need to know their motivation. Are they ready, able and willing to learn? 

We talked about why it’s important to identify learning style and it’s sometimes as easy as asking how do you learn best? Sometimes it will be trial and error but we need to be sure we know this when designing a plan. Identifying the readiness to learn is as simple to remember as PEEK. PEEK refers to each dimension of readiness. Are they physically able and do they have the right supports in place? Are they emotionally capable? How much control do they feel they have over the situation to learn something new? Finally, what is their capacity to take on new information? Readiness to learn is a big indicator. We may attempt to educate a patient who is nonchalant about a diagnosis or who has no desire to change a negative behavior but is it going anywhere? Not at all. Because that patient isn’t ready to absorb that information just yet. We may have to keep trying.

So, we’ve talked about everything focused around patient education except for the actual education. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’ll tell you we are applying the nursing process to patient education. We’ve assessed and diagnosed the patients needs around the education. Now we are going to design the teaching based on the patient’s goals and learning styles, perform the teaching and then we are going to evaluate how successful it was. When we implement, we are catering to their learning style. I always hated when a patient was discharged with a stack of information about their diagnosis and disease process, medications and what to do after discharge. What happens if the patient doesn’t learn by reading? We just printed something they won’t look at. If a patient says they learn best by doing something, demonstrate and have them show you what they learned. If a patient says they learn best by reading, then give them a printout, but make sure it’s written in layman’s terms so they understand.If they are a visual learner, make sure to provide some illustrations to help bring the point home. How do we evaluate? We want to know in the patient’s own words what they got from the teaching. How did they process the information? Did we leave any room for questions or uncertainty? And when they can, we may want them to demonstrate what they learned. I just taught this lady how to administer insulin. I want her to show me how to do it so I know she gets it. This is important because if there is any part that needs to be reviewed, we should find out about it here. 

So some key points to review. Understanding your patient’s individual learning style is the key to ensuring they’ve received and understand the information you plan to give them. It’s also a major factor in improving compliance in the community so make sure you’re providing the right resources. The needs assessment will tell you everything you need to know in regard to your patient’s goals, needs, wants and their overall abilities and readiness to learn something new. Patient education is what this is about! We can’t expect to promote positive health behaviors without pointing people in the right direction. But you will only know which direction is right if you know your audience before you try. Finally, remember the “E” in the nursing process. How else will you know if your patient gets it?!

So that’s it for Community health education. Make sure you check out all of the resources attached to this lesson. Now, go out and be your best self today! And, as always, happy nursing!

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