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Health care education week is a time for outreach
Plan events to get word out on patient education
After participating in Health Care Education Week last year, staff in the Patient, Family, and Community Education Department at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, CA, decided to participate again this November. What they will do depends on their budget, says Benjamin T. Laroya, RN, BSN, OCN, patient and family education coordinator.
Last year, they kept activities simple because they were working on a limited budget and didn’t have much lead time, says Laroya.
They set up a display table in a busy hallway where they could reach both staff and patients. Each day, a different department worked the table, offering materials and demonstrations on what it did in the area of patient education. For example, the respiratory department promoted its smoking cessation program.
Topics covered by various departments during Health Care Education Week included lung cancer detection, breast cancer prevention, lymphedema program, fatigue, pain education, cardiovascular risk reduction program, and the diabetes education program. There also were CancerHelp kiosk demonstrations daily. One evening, an "Ask the Experts" outreach program was scheduled, titled "Living and Coping with Cancer During the Holidays."
Prompting good teaching
To help improve teaching, Laroya printed out slips for writing tips on teaching and invited clinical staff to submit their ideas. He placed a collection box on the table where people could drop the finished forms.
Because nurses often are busy and might not have time to come by the display, Laroya visited clinical areas to hand out the forms as well. He would go back later to collect the teaching tips or someone from the unit would bring them to the collection box.
Participants were given a small gift. Also, their teaching tips were included in the quarterly newsletter on patient education that is distributed to clinical staff.
Before Health Care Education Week, Laroya created a small pamphlet that was an 8-by-12-inch sheet of paper with examples of teaching tips so staff would get an idea of the types of tips that would be useful. The tips in the pamphlet, which had been gathered at a conference, also helped improve staff patient education.
Prior to the observance of Health Care Education Week, Laroya handed out nomination forms for the Outstanding Patient Educator Award. An ad hoc committee was assembled to review the forms and select a winner. Anyone who provided direct patient care was eligible and one individual per unit or department was recognized.
According to selection criteria selection, nominees were expected to:
• go beyond what is expected of patient educators in fostering interdisciplinary teamwork;
• possess unique qualities that distinguish him/her from other employees in the delivery or development of patient and family education;
• demonstrate a commitment to providing patient and family education as an integral part of care (as demonstrated, for example, by consistently documenting educational needs);
• seek feedback from patient/family (e.g., return demonstration, asking questions that require patient to apply/verbalize learning, etc.) and use that feedback to improve teaching;
• use tools and resources such as written materials, videos, referring patients to the Supportive Care Resource Desk/Patient and Family Learning Center, etc.
The education department at Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver does not do anything special for Health Care Education Week. Instead, staff perform special educational activities throughout the year.
For example, during the health care institution’s skills fair, which staff attend to get information on all the things they are required to know, the department sets up a table with all its health education materials, says Mary Paeth, MBA, RD, patient/community education coordinator.
The display includes closed-circuit TV, a computer terminal that can access the intranet to show material, and the Patient Handbook and TV Guide, which is the main communication for families, says Paeth. The staff fill out a form after visiting the display that reflects their knowledge of the health education materials available. Questions asked include:
• What is a patient education program from TV channel 13, 14, or 22 I can use?
• Which written handout from the intranet can I use?
• What is a topic my patient can use from the Patient Handbook and TV Guide?
For completing the form, employees are entered in a drawing for gift baskets donated by vendors.
The education department currently is soliciting applications from clinical staff who might benefit from attending an education conference sponsored by the Oregon Council of Healthcare Educators that will be held in October. The department has set aside a small amount of money to pay the registration of a handful of patient educators, says Paeth.
To apply, employees must write a paragraph in the space provided on the form that describes how they have done one of the following:
• gone beyond what was expected of a patient educator in fostering interdisciplinary teamwork;
• shown unique qualities distinguishing them in the development or delivery of patient education;
• demonstrated a commitment to the provision of patient education as a vital component to health care;
• demonstrated excellence in the use of adult/child learning principals;
• made a contribution that had a positive impact on the practice of patient education;
• demonstrated expertise in the development of population-specific patient education.
"Although we haven’t done anything during the week that is picked, the things we have tried could be used for a special week if that is what works for the facility," says Paeth.
[Editor’s note: The Health Care Education Association (HCEA) and Pritchett & Hull Associates sponsor Health Care Education Week. A packet with various activities and promotions is available for $8 by contacting Pritchett & Hull at 3440 Oakcliff Road N.E., Suite 110, Atlanta, GA 30340. Telephone: (800) 241-4925 or (770) 451-0602. The packet is free to HCEA members.
If you have used Health Care Education Week to promote patient education, we’d love to hear from you about the details of your event. Contact Susan Cort Johnson, (530) 256-2749, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put "Idea for Health Ed Week" in your message title when e-mailing.]
For more information about the ideas for the celebration of Health Care Education Week, contact:
• Benjamin T. Laroya, RN, BSN, OCN, Patient & Family Education Coordinator, Patient, Family and Community Education, City of Hope National Medical Center, 1500 E. Duarte Road, Duarte, CA 91010-3000. Telephone: (626) 359-8111, ext. 63826. E-mail: email@example.com.
• Mary Paeth, MBA, RD, Patient/Community Education Coordinator, Education Department, Southwest Washington Medical Center, P.O. Box 1600, 400 N.E. Mother Joseph Place, Vancouver, WA 98668. Telephone: (360) 514-2230. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.