Preparing to Become a Patient
By Maia Buchman
In July 2020 the Pulse Center for Patient Safety Education and Advocacy hosted two sessions about the TakeCHARGE Campaign for Teens: Preparing to Become a Patient. Participants were girls aged 13 to 18 years old from eight states and Canada representing Curvy Girls, a support group for young women with scoliosis. Both sessions included interactive discussion and were taught by Ilene Corina, BCPA, Patient Safety Educator and President of Pulse Center for Patient Safety Education & Advocacy, and by Pulse Intern Maia Buchman, a graduate of Hofstra School of Health Professions and Human Services. Most participants have experienced going to multiple providers for their care and treatment, as well as for well visits.
The program was based on the TakeCHARGE Campaign: 5 Steps to Safer Health Care and was called Be an “I” Patient: Involved and Informed — Planning Ahead to Become a Patient. The ninety-minute sessions were interwoven with educational slides, lecture and casual discussion about their experiences. Topics included:
- preparing for a doctor’s visit
- medication safety and medication management
- choosing a healthcare proxy (for those turning 18 and leaving for college)
- choosing an advocate or appropriate support person
There were interactive games demonstrating how easy it may be to make a medication mistake, and teaching the best ways to describe symptoms, pain or discomfort objectively and accurately so the provider understands.
Surveys on the patient experience were completed pre and post session by the attendees. Most of the participants were satisfied with their medical care providers, although some reported having to speak up assertively to get the care they needed. Others tended to “go with the flow”, just assuming that the doctors knew what they were doing, even if they didn’t feel they were getting the full care or attention that they expected.
When it comes to preparing for a doctor’s visit, they either mentally prepared or their parents made a list of questions or concerns. Some said they see a variety of different doctors/providers for their care and treatment. Most of these girls did not know about the legal responsibilities relating to their own health care they must assume after turning 18.
Following the session, the girls agreed that they had a clearer idea of how to approach doctors/providers’ appointments, as well as felt more confident about asking questions, especially when it comes to asking a caregiver to wash their hands. They felt encouraged to be more proactive, such as discussing patient preparedness with their families, loved ones and friends. Following the program
, they reported increased confidence expecting answers and getting care from a provider. The participants reported a positive experience with the educational strategies (i.e. open dialogue and interactive games) used during the sessions. They shared their personal experiences, and learned from and inspired each other. It was suggested that this program should be taught in their high school health classes.
From the final survey:
When asked after the program: At your next doctor / medical visit, because of what you learned, will you prepare in any way differently than before? 90% said they would and some comments were:
- I will be more proactive in thinking of any questions or concerns I have and asking about the advance directives that I can get started on before I turn 18
- I will write a list and try to be more of an advocate for myself.
During your next visit with a doctor or medical care provider will you try to notice if they wash their hands before touching you because of what you learned? 100% said they would while only half (50%) said they noticed in the past.
- During your next visit with your doctor or medical care provider, would you plan on asking questions any differently because of what you learned? 89% said they would and some comments were:
- I just wouldn’t let them back away from the question and make sure all of my questions are answered.
- I would make sure I understand everything.
- This was super-empowering and made me want to become an Ambassador. I’d love to bring this to my Curvy Girls Chapter. I already speak up and take charge of my health, but this pushed me to do so even further. I ended up having a conversation with my mom about Advance Directives right after the session.
- Thank you this was the perfect balance of informative and interactive.
- I thought the program was very informative and helpful!
For more information or to host a TakeCHARGE program, contact Pulse Center for Patient Safety Education & Advocacy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (516) 579-4711. To learn more about TakeCHARGE visit www.TakeCHARGE.care. To learn more about Pulse CPSEA visit www.PulseCenterForPatientSafety.org.
Pulse Center for Patient Safety Education & Advocacy is a nonprofit, 501(c) 3 organization dedicated to raising awareness about patient safety through advocacy, education & support