A simple change to improve patient education

Research shows the most efficient and effective way to teach is to first assess what the learner knows, individualize teaching to meet the needs of the learner, and evaluate understanding with teach back. Too often, we jump into teaching without assessment, skipping this most essential step. Assessment is important because it informs you of what the learner knows, what misinformation needs to be corrected, and how best to present information in the context of understanding, so it can be most quickly learned.

Here’s a simple change you can make on paper that will cue all your staff into incorporating evidence-based practice:

Change the title of each teaching checklist to “Assessment Checklist.”

What you call a teaching checklist is not that at all; it is, instead, a list of topics you want to address with the patient. If the patient already knows that content, you don’t have to teach it. What you really want to do is to assess the patient’s understanding of the contents of that list, so you know what needs to be taught. It is, in actuality, an assessment checklist. Use it to assess knowledge, then build your teaching around the results.

©2017 Fran London, MS, RN

Leave a Reply