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To maximize the value of educational opportunities at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Magdalyn Patyk, MS, RN, BC, patient education program manager, works closely with inpatient and outpatient services and the Health Learning Center.
"I develop and implement strategic plans for patient education to accomplish this," explains Patyk.
In her job as program manager, she is responsible for the development, implementation, and maintenance of all patient education resources, programs, and support for the organization. She reports to the director of health information and education.
Currently, the hospital has 800 beds, but is building a new women's pavilion that will open in the fall of 2007. In addition, a new women's hospital will open in the fall of 2007.
The patient education department is staffed by the program manager and a part-time patient education specialist. This person works with Patyk to coordinate the review of materials and classes to assure all are in compliance with hospital standards. Together, this two-person department also addresses staff development needs related to patient education.
In 1993, Patyk was hired at Northwestern as a patient education coordinator. It was a part-time position. In 1994, the position was expanded to full-time but Patyk had to split her time between patient education and nursing staff development. In 2000, she was able to focus strictly on patient education, and in 2004, patient education became a department and she was named program manager.
She is a BSN-prepared nurse and has a master's degree in nursing with a focus on education. Also, she is certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center for nursing professional development.
Prior to her job at Northwestern, Patyk worked for three years in cardiac rehabilitation at a hospital in a Chicago suburb. Before moving to the Chicago area, she worked as a staff nurse at a hospital in Dearborn, MI.
In a recent interview, Patyk, who is the consulting editor on the editorial board of PEM, discussed her job, her philosophy on patient education, the challenges she has met, and the skills she has developed that help her to do her job well.
Following are the answers to the questions posed:
Q: What is your best success story?
A: "Northwestern has offered so many opportunities for professional growth and involvement in new projects. One of the most exciting occurred in 1998 when I was involved in the planning and implementation of Northwestern's Health Learning Center, which is one of the largest centers in the country. At that time, I developed an educational program model linking the Health Learning Center with physician offices and outpatient sites. It included a referral process for return documentation of education sessions conducted with outpatients in the Health Learning Center.
"Another major initiative included the development of a cardiovascular microsite on the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Internet site. Working with clinical experts and internet strategists, I provided patient education content dealing with all aspects of the cardiovascular health diagnostics and treatment.
"These projects are excellent examples of coordination of patient education among the multidisciplinary team. It is my belief that this type of coordination is the key to effectively meeting the educational needs of our patients."
Q: What is your area of strength?
A: "Personally, I am able to multi-task and reprioritize on a daily basis. This is essential because I am usually involved in several projects at a given time.
"Organizationally, I like to feel the department is a resource for directors, managers, and staff, not only to drive patient education projects, but also to assist with other information needs across the continuum of care.
Making the right connections
"Consistency of information across the care continuum is something we strive for on a daily basis. A good example is diabetes. Working with the Health Learning Center, we focused on selecting/developing patient education resources for use both in the inpatient and outpatient settings that complement and support a clear, consistent message to our patients," Patyk contunes.
"This involves coordination with inpatient and outpatient dietitians from two separate departments and reporting structures. In addition, we collaborated with the inpatient advance practice nurse and outpatient nurse clinician to achieve our goal."
"The patient education department and the Health Learning Center team also recently initiated a caregiver program to help support family members who are taking their loved ones home. We are targeting those families who do not have access to outside support, such as a home health aide. We provide instructions that will assist family members in caring for the patient in the home setting. Specific topics include bed making, lifting, moving a patient, and infection control."
"Rehabilitation services approved the program to ensure that the content taught was aligned with the information they provided. Given their unique insights into family situations, the case management staff played an important role in referring family members to the program."
Q: What lesson did you learn the hard way?
A: "I have a tendency to over-commit and I have learned that when taking on a new project, I need to look at timelines and communicate realistic expectations."
Q: What is your weakest link or greatest challenge?
A: "I no longer report up through patient care so I had to develop a small network of information providers to stay attuned to changes in nursing.
"One goal that I am constantly striving to attain is the creation of a patient education culture at our organization. Working with the Patient Family Education Committee [PFEC], we recently distributed a survey tool to all health professionals who consistently work on a select medical unit. The survey gauges staff perception about their role in the provision of patient education. Using the resulting date, an action plan will be developed and implemented by PFEC and the patient education department. We will then measure the impact of our action plans by conducting a follow-up staff survey."
Q: What is your vision for patient education for the future?
A: "Patient education will be provided to our patients prior to all tests and procedures and before prescheduled admissions. In addition, patients will be equipped with the information they need to safely move from one level of care to another. This information will be provided in a timely manner and tailored to the patients' specific needs and in a format and manner that best optimizes their learning."
Q: What have you done differently since your last JCAHO visit?
A: "Recently we successfully passed our first unscheduled Joint Commission visit. In the interval between our last scheduled visit and this visit, we have focused on direct communication to staff at the unit and departmental level through in-services and paper communication.
"Also we developed teaching guides to assist staff with patient education. Working with clinical experts we have developed about 10 to 15 teaching guides on such topics as diabetes, heart failure, and breast feeding. We have found this to be valuable for new staff or at times when patients are admitted to units that do not routinely care for these specific patient populations."
"To foster a patient education culture, we want to incorporate it into each activity that the health care professional performs. One example of this was a project where we partnered with the Nursing Education Committee. Together we were able to add a patient education component into common nursing competencies."
"The Patient Family Education Committee developed an orientation packet for all health care professionals. The accompanying quiz was electronic. This allows managers and preceptors to track the progress of staff completion of the patient education orientation packet."
Q: When trying to create and implement a new form, patient education materials, or program, where do you go to get information/ideas from which to work?
A: "We have completed a campus-wide, patient education needs assessment twice since 1998 with the last one completed in 2005, so I have a pretty good sense about the staff needs and where there are gaps. Patient satisfaction also provides important insights. It is monitored on a routine basis and includes Press Ganey data along with results from focus groups and con-concurrent surveys conducted on the inpatient units."
"Working with clinicians we look at high-volume, high-risk procedures. We also focus on outpatient tests and procedures along with discharge instructions."
For more information about patient education at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, contact: