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A Nurse’s Role in Patient-Centered Care


Advanced practice nurses play a critical role in the implementation of healthcare that focuses on the needs and personal preferences of patients: patient-centered care.


Their experience with patient-centered care can help mentor a younger generation of nurses, who are expected to fill the majority of healthcare positions in the next decade.


As an advanced practice nurse, you could impact the future of patient-centered care by practicing it now and inspiring the next generation to do the same in the future.

What is patient-centered care?

There’s no single definition for patient-centered care that’s accepted by all medical professionals, but the term has become widely used in nearly every healthcare setting.


This type of care is generally characterized by medical professionals providing an enhanced experience where patients feel respected, involved, and empowered. Here are a few ways for you to provide patient-centered care as a nurse.

Dignified Healing

Personalized patient care reinforces the importance of dignity and respect in the healing process. This type of personalization can include preferences related to spiritual beliefs, personal values, or cultural traditions, as well as simple requests for greater comfort and understanding.


Many hospitals have added healing gardens, music therapy, sources of natural light, pet therapy programs, and other elements that create more soothing surroundings for patients and families. Religious beliefs can also inform the way people care for themselves in times of illness.


By honoring the spiritual and cultural preferences of your patients, you can earn their trust and respect. Listening to their preferences and understanding how they will react to medical advice is crucial. For example, if a patient is fasting for religious purposes but is a diabetic, it’s important to respect this wish and find alternative options for their care, if possible.

Patient Knowledge and Education

A core tenet of patient-centered care is the treatment of patients and their loved ones as partners in care delivery.


You can use your role as a nurse to provide patient-centered care and help hospitalized patients learn more about their conditions. Family involvement is particularly important when a patient is in great pain or fearful of their situation, as well as when they are being discharged or moved to another facility.


Patient safety is the most critical component of quality care and must be prioritized in all decisions regarding treatment planning and delivery. Your clinical knowledge and patient care experience as a nurse will be vital to ensuring accurate understanding and action.


Informed consent is crucial to patient-centered care, and digital information may bring people to a level of understanding that compels them to ask additional questions related to their health. Some nurses may recommend easy-to-digest digital information for patients to read at their own pace through their smartphones or tablets. It’s important to note that this recommendation can offer individuals access to the correct information, rather than imprecise details they may find through their own searches on the internet.


The same handheld device may be used to view images and learn the names of every member of the patient’s healthcare team, bringing a sense of familiarity and comfort to the patient.


Electronic health records (EHRs) also provide the opportunity to advance patient-centered care significantly. Instant access to a patient’s entire medical history, regardless of where or when a service was performed, has been shown to reduce medical errors and the number of repeat or unnecessary testing procedures.


In addition to the traditional information contained in an EHR — such as a history of procedures, medications, and so on — the patient’s story contains information such as expected discharge date, a healthcare plan, and specific needs or complaints.


Special days can also be included in the story to facilitate birthday wishes for those celebrating in the hospital. This example of a simple act of kindness goes a long way toward improving patient satisfaction and can create genuine connections between you and your patients.

Collaboration and Teamwork

Hospitals that truly embrace patient-centered care encourage all of their employees to put the patient first, even if the employee is not in a direct care role.


The premise is that if employees understand the importance of their role in the overall delivery of quality care — be it working in housekeeping, security, billing, or food service — they will perform at a higher level.


Hospitals that are successful in creating this sort of team-driven, patient-first workplace tend to achieve higher quality and satisfaction ratings in national surveys and other measures.

Mentorships translate to better care.

As an experienced nurse, it will be important for you to demonstrate compassionate care to the next generation of professionals and leave behind a legacy of increased professionalism and patient satisfaction in your field of expertise.


In less than 10 years, more than half of the nation’s healthcare-related positions will likely be filled by the millennial generation. Although this group of individuals is known for their tech savviness and fresh ideas, new members of the workforce benefit tremendously from experienced mentors — and established nurses may benefit from hearing the new perspectives of the younger nurses.


For instance, experienced advanced practice nurses may be familiar with the emotional needs of patients and family members who feel scared and alone in an unfamiliar setting. That means they can share their ability to engage with patients and help incoming nurses be more well-rounded nursing professionals.

Advance your education and learn the fundamentals of patient-centered care in nursing.

As patient-centered care takes center stage, your role as a nurse could become one of the most important in large-scale change.


If you’re ready to become part of this trend and take the next step in your nursing career, take a look at the online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program from Maryville University. Our program is designed to reinforce tenets of patient-centered care.


With six start dates each year and five areas of specialization from which to choose, our online MSN is a convenient and smart way to stay aligned with the constantly shifting and evolving healthcare field.


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