When teaching patients, one must build on the foundation of clear and measurable objectives. The wording is important, ask yourself if there is a way to quantify the goal. Be specific, you may understand it but the teaching may need to be on the level of a 4-6th grader in some cases. Low literacy has been strongly correlated to poorer health outcomes. They have poorer resources and gaps in self-management of health conditions (Easton, Entwhistle, & Williams, 2013, p. 2). Be realistic, know the patient’s demographics, roadblocks, any factor that would interfere with a successful outcome. In a study by Bryant, she points out how frequent illiteracy affects individuals, more than half in their study, it is very rarely documented in the nurse’s assessment and plan of care for this patient in the chart. This must strongly be a consideration in teaching due to the many ways this negatively affects the patient and health outcomes (Bryant, 2011, p. 10).
Factors that play into success are patients readiness. If the patient is not open to learning, it will not be absorbed. Another factor is environment such as temperature of the room, lighting, distractions, and noise interference all can deter the success of the learning session. The physical state of the patient also affects their ability to absorb and be a willing participate. In L&D, when the patient is in excruciating pain, the time is not right to go over the consents that need signing until after the epidural is in place. Cultural awareness is so important. Language must be understood.
Think: VERBS, action words are measurable. Identify, list, name, repeat, explain, etc. In the Maines Guidelines for Writing Learning Objectives speaks of the example that is unmeasurable: “Increase knowledge”. Know and understand are not measurable however seem to be favorites that need to go away. Wording is important and this will take practice in our own practices (Maine Nurses Association, n.d.).