Patient-Centered Care: A Guide for Nurses

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Nurses play a valuable role in healthcare. A nurse is often the first and most frequent contact patients have with a healthcare professional, and the ways that nurses deliver care can be hugely influential in achieving positive patient outcomes.

In recent years, many healthcare organizations have begun to make the shift toward patient-centered care, placing the emphasis on the needs of the patient. While it may seem straightforward, prioritizing the mental and physical necessities of the patient hasn’t always been a focus of healthcare, requiring nursing leaders to work collaboratively with their patients to find success.

By pursuing an advanced degree that values patient-centered care, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), future nursing leaders can make a long-lasting and positive impact on the lives of their patients.

A nurse and a patient clasp hands.

What Is Patient-Centered Care?

Patient-centered care is an approach to healthcare that prioritizes the wants and needs of patients while being respectful of their values and preferences. By allowing people to be active participants in their care, healthcare providers are able to give a more accurate diagnosis and treatment plan, building a valuable rapport with patients.

This relationship can allow nurses to better understand their patients, not only taking their physical symptoms into account but also considering their mental state. Approaching patients and their care as a whole can allow nurses to provide care plans that align with individuals’ values, making sure that they’re comfortable with their treatment plan and increasing the chance that patients will follow their treatment plans accurately.

Guidelines of Patient-Centered Care

The guidelines of patient-centered care can be boiled down to a basic concept: Treat everyone with respect. This perspective allows nurses to approach each case as unique, recognizing that extenuating circumstances differ from one patient to the next, regardless of diagnosis, and allowing them to tailor care strategies to the individual. Guidelines for patient-centered care include the following:

  • Care focuses on the physical and emotional needs of the patient.
  • The patient’s values, traditions, and socioeconomic conditions are respected.
  • The presence of family members or a support system is encouraged. This support system is an integral part of the patient’s care team and is expected to play a role in care.
  • Transparency is key. Information is shared fully with patients, allowing them to make more informed decisions on how they’d like to proceed with their care.

Historically, the majority of healthcare provider professional development and education has been based on theory, not necessarily on direct patient care. This disconnect can incline care providers to approach their patients as puzzles as opposed to complex human beings, hindering proper care. As online nursing degrees and advanced degree programs make the shift to patient-centered instruction, future nursing leaders are better equipped to care for their patients.

Patient-Centered Care Principles

Making the transition to patient-centered care means shifting the overall perspective of healthcare. Changing from a system that’s been primarily provider centered, wherein the medical needs were the priority and patients had little say in their care, to a system that focuses on aligning with a patient’s values can have many positive effects. These positive results include the following:

  • Improved patient outcomes. Patients are more likely to follow a care plan they believe in, making treatment more effective.
  • Increased patient satisfaction and an improved reputation. Patients who feel they’re better supported are more likely to remain with their healthcare provider and recommend that provider to others.
  • Improved employee morale. Building valuable relationships with patients can be fulfilling and result in a more satisfied workforce. Nurses who develop rapport with their patients have the opportunity to celebrate with them when they succeed, providing long-term care and seeing them through key milestones in their lives.

When nurses are equipped with the proper knowledge, skills, and support system required to maintain comprehensive patient-centered care, the benefits have a far-reaching effect, improving the lives of nurses and patients and building success for healthcare organizations. The following are key principles for maintaining patient-centered care:

Dignified Healing

Upholding patient dignity by treating patients with respect is at the heart of patient-centered care. Healthcare complications, particularly later in life, can be challenging for patients. Facing the reality of failing health and decreasing physical capabilities can be difficult, making the way that nurses approach care all the more important.
As simple as following the mantra “treat others as you would like to be treated,” dignified healing focuses on ensuring patients feel respected and valued, minimizing embarrassment or other negative reactions to care.

As simple as following the mantra “treat others as you would like to be treated,” dignified healing focuses on ensuring patients feel respected and valued, minimizing embarrassment or other negative reactions to care.

Patient Knowledge and Education

Treating patients as valuable members of their own care team is essential to maintaining their autonomy and dignity. By providing patients with a comprehensive overview of their health, including the timely delivery of results or a diagnosis, patients can make informed decisions about their care that align with their values. This inclusion allows nurses to build rapport with their patients, making space for open and honest discussions about treatment options, symptoms, side effects, and likely outcomes.

Collaboration and Teamwork

From nurses, doctors, and specialists to receptionists and orderlies, an entire network of dedicated individuals is required to run a healthcare organization. For patient-centered care to be truly effective, the principle of putting the needs of patients first must be the goal throughout the organization.

This collaboration can come in the form of medical professionals working together to find a diagnosis, nurses working with families to support a patient, providing resources that respect individual religions or beliefs, or simply having systems in place to remember the names of patients. By making patient-centered care the basic standard for all systems in an organization, nursing leaders are better equipped to improve the lives of their patients.

Make a Positive Impact Through Patient-Centered Care

Every person deserves dignity and respect. In healthcare, patients are often facing some of the most difficult challenges of their lives. By approaching each case using the principles of patient-centered care, nurses can help individuals navigate these challenges, allowing them to have a say in their treatment and preserving their dignity throughout the care process.

Building the knowledge and skills required to provide quality care takes time. Pursuing an advanced degree such as the online MSN from Maryville University can be a key step in acquiring those skills.

A fully online program with the option to choose from five different concentrations and the ability to complete your clinicals locally in your preferred setting, the MSN program from Maryville University offers you all the tools you need to succeed. Discover how you can make a positive impact in your nursing career.

Recommended Reading

Bedside Nursing and Beyond: The Other Side of Nursing

BSN vs. MSN Degree: Career Outcome Differences

Senior Healthcare and the Rise of Chronic Illness

Sources

BMC Health Services Research, “The Importance of Patient-Centered Care and Co-Creation of Care for Satisfaction with Care and Physical and Social Well-Being of Patients with Multi-Morbidity in the Primary Care Setting”

College of Nurses of Ontario, Patient-Centered Care

Indeed, Patient-Centered Care: Elements and Examples

Oneview, “The Eight Principles of Patient-Centered Care”

PatientEngagementHIT, “What Does Patient-Centered Care Truly Mean?”