Education Is A Holy Mess, But Still The Best Way To Evolve


This past weekend I attended a Pri-Med symposium on medical updates.  The entire weekend was a stimulating one, except once I was struggling to stay awake the sleep disorder update, but I muscled-up and survived.

The Harvard/UM folks used the best in the field to present the battery of material.  I felt very fortunate to be a part of the audience.

There were people of all walks of medicine: Doctors, Osteopathic Doctors, Nurse Practitioners, Nurses, Medical students, and anyone who were shuffling to glean a bit of knowledge and grab a some Continuing Education Units (or CMEs) while at it.

This weekend education was not a holy mess, but we can say the education system as a whole in this country and everywhere else (Kindergarden to tertiary, and in the medical industry) is not perfect.  Still, it remains the best way for the majority of us to evolve to a higher standard of existence, finances, and help-somebody-ness.

This past Friday I was part of a group who took a session entitled, “Optimizing Functional Health Literacy–An Essential Mediator of Patient-Centered Care.”  What I brought out of this interactive ticketed class was the importance of “taking (regardless of being rushed by administrators, ED, or a doctor, to discharge a client)” the time to use “Ask Back” to enquire if what you taught the patient (or family) about their care was rightly understood by them.

IMG_3138The healthcare environment many times is a rush-rush one.  With managed care, we try to ambush time.  Time oftentimes seem illusive.  An almost incessant problem (Except when clocking out!).  It is constantly trying to choke the life out of a good nurse.  Most of the time, you want to spend as much time with a client to teach them what they aught to know to help themselves.  But sometimes you feel the breeze at your back, that someone in some remote part of the hospital is always watching you.  If the client got what you said, you breathe a sigh of relief.  If they didn’t have a drum load of questions for you to answer, you take another deep, quick, draw.  But if they are having a moment, and the charge nurse shows up in your class, well… it’s a done deal.  Seal the Book.  And the sentence is very obvious, “He that is ignorant of this knowledge, let him be ignorant still (Revelation 22:11.  My own interpretation).”

This all boils down to a sour spot in a puny nurse’s chest.  We need to change the focus of managed care to manage-your-knowldege care.  The education system is a mess, and the best way for many of us to evolve, but we can fix some of our hard-butt glitches!

I’ve practiced at some hospitals (in the West) that have dedicated nurse educators to help with the challenge of educating clients just before discharge.  Yes, there are some clients who only want to get out of the sickness-care door just to see the Sun, and don’t seem to have the time for any nurse babbling vital information that could help them stay well, but there are many who care for their health, and want to hear what you have to impart.  So, we can do better.

IMG_0575OYE!  If we wish to really make an impact in the recurrent rate of admission due to chronic diseases (cancers, cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, obesity, etc) we need to TAKE the time to teach clients what they need to know, and ask them to repeat in their own words what they understood.  It is of vital importance.  And how we know it will work?  Well, most people give a damn about their lives. I believe most people want to feel good.  If they understand and follow what the good doctor or nurse recommends, they might skip the next hopscotch to the doctor’s office or ED.  Now we have to convince the blooming folks in administration, who sometimes only see in green (bottom line dollar), that the time we spend teaching clients what they need to know, is one well-spent and worth it!