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The Importance of Patient Education in Nursing

  • As a nurse, you learn how to provide care to patients.
  • But, how can you ensure that they are going to care for themselves upon discharge day?
  • It is vital that we understand the importance of patient education in nursing and its positive outcomes.

NCC News & Content Team

September 24, 2021
Simmons University

As a nurse, you learn how to care for patients.  

You learn how to hang drips, start IVs, how to express empathy, and deliver empathy therapeutic communication to patients. 

You are given the tools to provide the best care in the world to even the sickest patients. Let’s take a post-operative patient, for example.  

When they come out of a surgical procedure and are taken off the drips or the ventilator, you know that they are going to endure many changes that may require both physical and occupational therapies. 

They are healing and on the road to recovery – but now what?  

It is time for them to be discharged; but who is there to teach them how to go back into the world with a new ailment? You are.  

Understanding the importance of patient education in nursing is vital for promoting positive patient outcomes! The patient and potentially even their family members must be thoroughly informed on how to continue to provide care after being discharged from a healthcare facility. 

From preventative measures to developing a consistent medication schedule, it is both your responsibility and the physician’s to ensure that your patient is confident in their ability to care for themselves upon leaving the facility and that they understand the health consequences of if they neglect the care plan.  

You want what is best for your patient, however, they must understand how to take care of themselves after they leave your care. 

Patient Education Affects Everyone

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a lack of proper patient education can result in many factors, including: 

  • More emergency room (ER) visits 
  • Longer hospital stays 
  • Patients not following treatment plans 
  • High mortality rates 

Therefore, we must highlight the importance of patient education in nursing; if not, we will all struggle, and people will continue getting sick. 

For us to truly understand its value, let us break down all the reasons why we must promote valuable patient education.  


Most Patients Are Not Providers, They Need an Explanation

When it comes to your health, you want to ensure that you are making informed decisions, right? 

How can a patient do so if they have no idea what their provider is talking about? This is a huge problem in healthcare. 

As a nurse, your job is to explain the available treatment options, the possible outcomes, and risks; of course, the physician will help with this, too. 

However, a study evaluating the impact of patient education reveals that most patients retrieve information related to their health solely from the nurse.  

Even from the most minute detail, your patient should be able to have enough information to feel comfortable deciding on their treatment. What is even more important is that you explain it to them in a way they understand.  

It is often helpful for the patient and or the caregiver to repeat back what they have been taught, so you know their understanding of how to care for themselves and preventative interventions. 

How Can You Improve Your Patient Education Delivery?

Although there are many things you can do to improve how you increase your patient’s awareness of a potential health condition, treatment options, or risk factors related to either their condition or treatment, we will cover just a few. 

The Nurse Journal highlights a few questions to ask yourself as you evaluate your patient and take their history. Check them out: 

  • What is their knowledge about the problem? (What do they know?) 
  • What are they already doing to address the issue/problem? What have they tried? (What do they know to do?) 
  • What is their feeling about the problem? (What do they feel?) 
  • What do they think could be done differently? (What do they think to change?) 
  • What matters to them? 

The ability not only assess a patient’s current condition, but their feelings and environmental factors (accessibility, education, etc.) are skills that will inevitably make you a better provider.  

As you learn more about your patient, you will work with the physician to develop a treatment plan that will best suit them and their needs. 

You want what is best for your patient, however, they must understand how to take care of themselves after they leave your care. 

Patient education is almost more important than the hands-on care you are provide to patients during their stay.  

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