How Can Strong Writing and Literacy Skills Benefit Nurses and Improve Patient Outcomes?

“Writing” may not seem to have much influence in the nursing field. After all, aren’t nurses mostly focused on patient care? Actually, strong writing and literacy skills significantly impact nurses’ ability to improve patient outcomes — particularly in the role of health literacy.

What exactly is health literacy? According to American Nurse Journal, “the U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that health literacy is the capability of the individual seeking medical care to recognize and comprehend ‘basic health information’ in order to make safe decisions as a partner in care.”

Many patients are unaware of or uncertain about health terms commonly used by healthcare professionals. Recognizing when patients are confused about specific terms is one of the crucial steps to improving patient outcomes. When patients are well-informed, they feel more comfortable in healthcare settings knowing they will get the most appropriate and effective treatment for their condition.

With strong writing skills, nurses possess the capacity to focus on providing patient-centered care that ensures safety for all. Medical Device News Magazine states, “good writing skills in nursing are vital to explain EMR (electronic medical records), craft healthcare plans or charts with everyday duties, and implement EBP [evidence-based practice] to manage any health issues.” Many Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs, such as the one offered online by Southern Utah University (SUU), require students to complete writing and information literacy courses to ensure they have and understand the importance of these skills.

Why Health Literacy Is Important

American Nurse Journal goes on to explain, “despite their extensive education, too many nurses don’t understand health literacy, so [they] don’t identify it in their patients. Including more information about this topic in basic nursing programs, and in continuing education opportunities, could help improve outcomes.”

With health literacy knowledge, nurses can also strive for higher professional titles in healthcare. The best nurses are diligent in their work and know how to communicate with individuals they encounter daily.

“To integrate health literacy principles into patient care and patient education,” nurses should use a “universal precaution approach” by not assuming a patient’s health literacy, according to Nurses should also utilize familiar language when communicating with patients and apply the teach-back method, which asks patients to repeat information in their own words to ensure understanding. These methods help patients retain more information and foster nurse-patient relationships.

Communication’s Role in Elevating Healthcare Standards

Good communication skills also help improve the standards of healthcare. Patients are more likely to return for future health concerns when approached with respect and compassion.

Additionally, nurses must work with a team of other professionals to effectively care for patients. All nurses within the team communicate about recent findings to ensure no mistakes are made when administering medicine or other forms of treatment to their patients.

Indeed states that “having a range of writing skills can enable professionals in any industry to get noticed by employers, advocate for their interests and get work done more effectively,” promoting patient retention and improving healthcare overall. If a facility is performing well and completing work at a higher standard than other facilities in the area, it will be more likely to generate satisfied (and thus returning) customers.

Transform Your Communication Skills With a Bachelor’s Degree

One way to transform your communication skills as a nurse is to further your career and earn your BSN degree. Those who enroll in the online RN to BSN program at SUU will grow their nursing practice and develop their skills in providing quality, evidence-based care to culturally diverse patients across the lifespan.

Students will heighten their skills in analysis, communication, critical thinking, problem-solving and ethical decision-making. This intensive program allows all students to provide quality professional nursing care based on a synthesis of theoretical and empirical knowledge from nursing, physical and social sciences, arts and humanities and life experiences.

For example, the Intermediate Writing course covers the basics of developing structured writing habits and knowledge of rhetoric and research. In the Information Literacy course, students strengthen their research, information synthesis and ethical argumentation skills. Depending on one’s preference, coursework can be completed in as few as 10 months.

Each future graduate will obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to enter influential roles in healthcare, such as travel nurse, nurse manager, flight nurse, school nurse, correctional nurse, public health nurse, quality improvement coordinator or nursing research assistant.

Learn more about Southern Utah University’s online RN to BSN program.

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