Pick instruction methods, teachers with care

Variety demonstrates appropriate techniques

To make sure liaisons gained the skills needed to effectively teach their colleagues how to teach patients, instructors for a training workshop at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, CA, were chosen for their expertise. To discuss the role of the liaison, a nurse manager was paired with a health educator. "The health educator talked about how to portray yourself as an educator to different people. The nurse manager was selected to show staff that the administration supports patient education," explains Janet Sohal, RN, MSN, a staff developer in educational services at the medical center.

A local group that specializes in cross-cultural education was hired to teach staff how to approach people from other cultures. A nurse taught how to comply with the standards on patient education of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations in Oakbrook Terrace, IL. She was from the quality improvement department and therefore was familiar with the accreditation requirements.

In addition to having a variety of instructors with expertise in the area they were selected to teach, workshop planners made sure a variety of teaching methods were used. Those included small and large group discussions, a video, overhead illustrations, handouts, and poster boards.

"There were some points that were very important, so I used handouts to reinforce the education. For example, I produced a 12-point checklist on how to make sure your patients understand the materials you give them," says Susan Karlins, MPH, director of health education for Valley Health Plan in San Jose, CA, and the instructor for the session on teaching tips.