Consider what it means to teach. I believe that teaching can happen in a variety of ways. It often occurs during conversations at the bedside or in a class. However, that is not the only way it happens. The way teaching should be done depends on the learner’s needs, objectives, and context.

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

Patients in the hospital are often frightened, overwhelmed, have a lot of questions, and want to go home. Nurses play an important role in providing education to help clients meet their goals. This education needs to be delivered in a variety of ways in order to be effective.  

When patients are being discharged from hospital stress and anxiety may limit their ability to retain information. It is important for education to be happening at every patient encounter. Getting the patient interested in the content and evaluating if they understood the message is essential. Printed materials are often provided, but there are other ways to teach. The next time you want to hand someone a printout or pamphlet think about assessing if that is the format they prefer.

Anxiety image from Pixabay

It is necessary to assess the Lerner’s needs and readiness to learn before developing a teaching plan. What works for one person will not work for everyone. Getting the learner involved in determining the teaching plan will improve the buy-in and effectiveness of teaching. Every time my nurse hands me a printout explaining the injection my child just got I try to refuse it because I know I will not use it. A website would be more useful for me.

Technology is being used more and more to deliver evidence-based content to the community in several formats. Making materials available in a variety of formats (printed and online) that function on multiple devices is key to facilitating knowledge transfer.

Online nurses can promote health through websites, social media, newsletters, and more. See this nurse practitioner’s website for an example. Videos are being used more and more to provide education to patients by institutions like Synnybrook Hospital. As nurses, it is important to broaden our definition of teaching and recognize it in a variety of forms. We also need to recognize the importance of providing education at several points in time during a patient’s journey.

Education may be the most important role of a nurse.

Thank you!


Want more? Click here for some more strategies for improving education.


Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.