How Can RNs Benefit From a Health Assessment Course?

All nurses know the importance of a thorough head-to-toe health assessment — that's why it is one of the basic skills in your nursing toolkit. Most likely you remember learning those skills during your time in skills lab and clinicals, and now you continue to fine tune your assessment skills with direct patient care. So, you may wonder how you can benefit from another health assessment course and how it differs from what you are already doing at work.

What Is a BSN Health Assessment Course?

A health assessment course in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program expands on the foundation laid during your Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) studies. It focuses on improving interview skills, health history, and physical/psychosocial findings and analysis. The course places emphasis on critical-thinking skills and the holistic approach method (physical, psychosocial, cultural, and spiritual) to form an individualized approach to patient care.

You will focus on the importance of both subjective (assessment factors reported by the patient) and objective (observable and measurable) data. You will gain insight into ways to better integrate these findings to improve the care of individuals with various factors that impact a health history and physical exam, such as age, and cultural, socioeconomic and environmental factors. This course also suggests methods to improve your patient interactions so that you may take a more comprehensive patient history and a more detailed physical assessment.

A BSN-Level Health Assessment Course Will Improve Your Patient Communication

A health assessment course can help improve your communication with patients to tailor your assessments. One common factor you may have seen in your patients is that not everyone communicates well with their healthcare team. This impacts your ability to obtain a history and physical, and it affects the patient's understanding of information that will help them make appropriate health decisions. This course focuses on different cultural perspectives and health literacy aspects to help you better individualize your care to improve patient outcomes.

Cultural Competence: As our nation becomes increasingly diverse, it is important for the healthcare industry as a whole to become more aware of the cultural diversity in our patients. Cultural competence is the practice of effectively communicating and interacting with people from different cultures, and knowing how to incorporate their cultural backgrounds into a holistic care approach.

Health Literacy: The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) defines health literacy as "the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services." The level of health literacy of your patient can significantly impact their ability to understand their health condition and follow instructions.

A health assessment course will also teach you about factors that impact health literacy and how you can better identify risk factors. It will provide you with techniques to address potential barriers to a good patient history, such as the impact of a patient's health literacy level on their ability to give an accurate and complete health history.

A Health Assessment Course Will Expand Patient History Assessment

This course helps you expand your assessment beyond your patient's health history to include the patient's current physical status, environmental factors, lifestyle choices, social history, past medical history and genetic make-up. Using the information gathered from your health assessment, you will be better able to tailor your nursing care to the patient's current illness and discuss disease prevention and health promotion. You will identify various opportunities to provide patients with the information they need to manage and improve their health. For example, one patient may benefit from information about cancer prevention such as tobacco cessation or sun safety, while another may benefit from information on a heart healthy diet.

Health Assessment Courses Improve Physical Assessment

Finally, a BSN-level health assessment course will enhance your knowledge of the four techniques for a holistic health assessment: inspection, palpation, percussion and auscultation. It will also focus on developing your ability to analyze these health findings and incorporating them into your nursing interventions.

A BSN health assessment course helps take your health assessment skills to the next level by building upon your existing experience. It increases your ability to apply knowledge from comprehensive health assessment data and evidence-based research to provide care for culturally diverse patients, caregivers and communities. Most importantly, it enhances the holistic care you provide to your patients.

Learn more about the URI online RN to BS in Nursing program.


The Joint Commission: Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Community

NIH: Health Literacy Definition

ODPHP: National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy

NCBI: Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion Overview of Nursing Health Assessment

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