Critical Concepts | Specialties

Valuing Patient Education in Nursing

  • Patient education is the process of teaching, influencing, and empowering patients to learn and manage, and act on their own medical care. 
  • Research shows that the importance of patient education leads to higher patient compliance, resulting in better positive outcomes. 
  • Areas of patient education should include, but not be limited to areas of procedures, disease management, discharge, and pre- and post-operative instructions. 

Amy White

RN, MSN, Chief Nursing Officer

June 23, 2022
Simmons University

Patient education is an area that cannot be devalued or left unattended when dealing with patients and families. Patient education provides a sense of empowerment regarding their medical care.   

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), patient education is “the process of influencing patient behavior and producing the changes in knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to maintain or improve health”.   

The improved health status of patients is seen when patients are involved in their own care. They are more likely to engage in interventions that may increase their chances for positive outcomes.   

Patient education helps to ensure an accurate knowledge base for the patients, preparedness for care, and proper self-management. All of these ensure that patients are receiving the adequate information needed for continuity of care.   

Nurses must be mindful when dealing with patients and families to offer accurate information that is fully understood by all members present. 

The Goal of Patient Education

Patients who are empowered regarding their medical care are better prepared to understand measures put in place to improve the patient’s quality of life.   

Improving quality of life, no matter the disease process, severity, stage, or treatment should always be the prominent goal for the patient and provider.   

Outcome measures can be utilized in healthcare programs and used to offer insight into the desired goals.   

All of these measures are imperative to assist in managing the patient’s quality of life and the best means to achieve these goals.   



patient education instructions

Purpose of Patient Education

Patient education is important in all areas of nursing and in various settings.  If patients are not educated on their care, poor outcomes are noted, a decline in health can occur, and a reduction in healing time and recovery typically takes place.   

The following areas are important to focus on when considering the purposes of patient education: 

Maintenance and Promotion of Health and Illness Prevention


Patients need to be aware of the necessities to maintain health and ways to prevent certain illnesses and diseases.   

Restoration of Health


Patients need to be taught the basics of how to restore one’s health to a previous state if possible.  Education must be given as patients are unsure of how to even begin the process of restoring health to its previous stage.    

Coping with Impaired Functions


Patients may undergo a surgery, illness, or medical disorder that alters the normal functions of the body and patients must be knowledgeable about what to do in these circumstances and how to adapt with altered functioning.   



patient education in nursing

Importance of Patient Education

Education is the key to assist patients and caregivers in knowing how to provide the appropriate and necessary care to promote the best quality of life possible.   

If patients and caregivers are not educated, it is almost impossible for the full capacity of a high-quality life to be fulfilled without the appropriate knowledge.   

By knowing this information, unnecessary trips to the hospital can be avoided and the condition may be able to be treated at an urgent care center. If they are educated by healthcare providers, we can shift from a provider-driven approach to a shared decision-making approach.   

Patient education strategies can be utilized to help patients prepare for a particular procedure and to be knowledgeable of the care that will be needed after the procedure even before the procedure takes place.   

This information allows the patients and caregivers to plan and prepare for the tasks that need to be covered before and after the procedure.   


providing patient education

Areas of Patient Education

The health status of a patient can change quickly so the nurse or provider should always be available to offer insight or answer questions about any new or unusual conditions.  

It is dually important that patients are aware that a nurse will be readily available to offer guidance and recommendations if needed.    

Disease Management


Patient education also assists with chronic disease management and allows these individuals to be knowledgeable about their conditions and the necessary steps in order to ensure more positive outcomes. 

Primary Care & Vaccinations


One may also ask if patient education can be beneficial for routine screenings, vaccines, and basic annual well visits.  The answer is absolutely! 

Allowing patients and caregivers to become more aware about the recommendations regarding screenings, vaccines, and annual well visits encourages these individuals to become more empowered and involved in their personal healthcare.     




Discharge education is another huge area of importance that plays a vital role when a patient is discharged from a facility and should focus on the following: 

  • Medication instructions 
  • Management of care and techniques to meet clinical needs 
  • Management of individual patient needs and/or circumstances 
  • Potential symptoms of side effects of medications and procedures 

Pre & Post Op


Patient education strategies can be utilized to help patients prepare for a particular procedure and to be knowledgeable of the care that will be needed after the procedure even before the procedure takes place.   

This allows time to plan and prepare for the tasks that need to be covered before and after the procedure.  


By utilizing these areas and ensuring that they are covered in detail, patients and the families can be equipped with the necessary knowledge to manage care.   

If they have poor health literacy the results can lead to negative or decreased health consequences.   



patient education empowerment

The Bottom Line

It is important that nurses and healthcare providers ensure that patient education is being offered to each patient throughout one’s care and upon discharge. Failure to do so can result in negative outcomes.   

Patient education has numerous benefits that ultimately empowers patients on their own health needs and assists in managing health conditions in a way that achieves overall positive outcomes.

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