Teaching aids streamline the educational process

Stickers, checklists, and kits improve learning

Aids that streamline teaching make the process simpler for staff who educate patients in preparation for discharge. That’s why the education department at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston has created several tools to make teaching more efficient.

A discharge planning sheet checklist on the bone marrow transplant unit helps staff cover all teaching topics that are necessary for a safe discharge. The checklist is kept outside the door of each patient’s room with a cover sheet for confidentiality. That way it is easily accessible to staff responsible for teaching, and the items that have been taught — such as dietary restrictions — can be checked off. Staff can see at a glance where the gaps are in teaching.

"It helps staff make the best use of their time with patients," says Nita Pyle, MSN, RN, associate director of patient education

Another timesaving teaching aid is a diabetes teaching kit, designed to aid staff in teaching cancer patients with steroid-induced diabetes. All the handouts and equipment for teaching patients how to care for their diabetes is in the kit.

"Nurses don’t have to look for the teaching plan or patient handouts. It is all captured in this little plastic bucket with a handle and lid," says Pyle. It used to contain teaching videos, but they are now on the housewide television system. Nurses have patients watch the video before they do the one-on-one teaching.

While documentation is key to efficient patient education because it is the tool for communication among the multidisciplinary members of the team, it isn’t always completed properly. Harried staff can skip the process to save time.

Therefore, the patient education department created pre-printed stickers for topics taught that have repetitive content. For example, chemotherapy patients must be taught about the side effects of the treatment that would include low red-cell count, low white-cell count, low platelet count, fatigue, hair loss, mouth sores, constipation, changes in skin, changes in appetite, sexual issues, and nausea.

The content of the teaching will differ depending on the drug or protocol, but the topics are consistent, says Pyle. "The nurse can check the topics taught and write in any specifics. That is a timesaver in the documentation process and also a prompt as to what it is they need to teach," she explains.