Health assessment usually occurs in the context of personal, family, and community setting and takes into consideration the cultural and developmental diversity and needs of a patient. In practice, health providers use normal findings, age variations, cultural, physiological, and psychological evaluations among others to assess the health of an individual and come up with a holistic diagnosis, treatment plan, and patient education. In the school setting, as D’Amico & Barbarito (2016) explain, health assessment focuses on developing the student’s knowledge and skills in relation to the complete health assessment, specific to the nursing process. The course also helps nurses have a clear understanding of the connection between health evaluation and prevention and early detection of diseases in a wide range of patients across the lifespan. Through a blended approach, the health assessment incorporates lectures, teaching, workshops, on-line learning, and clinical practice to help students develop their knowledge and skills in interviewing patients, history taking, and physical assessment. Incorporated throughout the course is also the importance of effective communication and the need to work together with patients and healthcare providers. Concisely, the course prepares professional nurses to apply the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out a holistic health assessment on patients despite their age groups, while emphasizing on several primary elements of the process. Along with that, it serves as a strong foundation for graduate-level health assessment course.
Initially, I must say that the course seemed insurmountable especially with all the theoretical coursework and its application into practice. However, the professor was very helpful from the beginning and working in groups also made it easier for me. Nonetheless, the course demanded a lot of time and dedication from my side and a whole lot of theory work. Apart from that, my ability to think critically came through for me especially with all the various decisions that were involved in the process. Another thing that helped me was my previous knowledge in patient assessment, which provided a basis for me; and by integrating it with some of the techniques I learned in this class, it helped me sail through the coursework.
Virtually, I feel that this class assisted in reinforcing and strengthening the skills I previously had and expanded my knowledge in all areas of health assessment. For instance, to achieve a holistic medical evaluation, data collection is one of the most important elements. This exercise uses several data collection methods such as interviewing, observing patients, as well as carrying out physical and mental health examination (D’Amico & Barbarito, 2016). Before this course, I was nervous about interviewing patients about their medical history. However, as I gradually put the knowledge and skills I learned into practice, this helped boost my confidence. In fact, I found that I enjoy having conversations with my patients as I assess them. Besides, I learned that if I interviewed patients about their personal lives as I carried out the physical examination, I acquired more information and related more to their feelings, which helped me in tailoring the treatment plan to the needs of the individual. Similarly, the communication skills I acquired from this course, not only helped me to communicate health assessments effectively but also in other fields of nursing as a whole.
Among the course contents, one of the most challenging things was the use of anatomical, physiological, psychosocial, and cultural factors to interpret health assessment data. In order to understand the concepts, this unit demanded the use of objective and subjective data as well as psychological, psychosocial, anatomical, and a clear understanding of the various cultural variations to come up with an accurately documented nursing diagnosis. Having a prerequisite knowledge of the contents of anatomy, physiology, and psychology helped me in the understanding of this unit. Working as a group was helpful too as much as the ability to think critically. At the end of it all, this unit also helped me become conversant with various cultural variations and their relation to human health and illness.
The course incorporates both theoretical and practical learning sessions, designed to help nurses refine their assessment skills to a higher level that can assist in data collection. This is significant in compiling a comprehensive health history and physical examination. The professor emphasized on the need to understand how to differentiate between normal and abnormal findings to assist the nurse in converting data collected into nursing diagnosis. It was also necessary to take into consideration the patient’s age, developmental stage, and cultural background as part of the assessment procedure. While it may seem easy, relating this information to a patient’s health evaluation and treatment plan is challenging.Student’s active role in critical discussions, assessment, practice, and demonstrations was highly expected. In reality, this course demanded several hours dedicated to the theoretical framework and brainstorming, to be able to make critical decisions and accurate diagnostics.
As a course requirement, all learners were expected to identify various information technology sources and use them to generate assessment data. All these formed a part of the course work, which was one way to prepare learners for their transformation into professional nurses, who can perform complete health assessments. While it may sound easy, a prerequisite knowledge in computers and various technological tools is highly recommended. Otherwise, several hours working online and learning how these tools integrate data assessment is necessary.
Completing all these course requirements was not an easy task; the professor used assigned readings to prepare students with meaningful contributions in all sessions. Apart from the face-to-face lectures with the professor, we were also expected to complete several assignments in line with the course details. Most notably, I found the assigned reading and assignments to be beneficial for my learning experience and preparation as a professional nurse. There were also interactive sessions, where students worked in various groups and were required to complete the activities assigned to them.
A central element of this module is equipping nurses with the necessary assessment skills to perform an advanced health evaluation exercise on their patients. Clinical expertise and assessments provide both an interactive and innovative learning experience. At the end of the module, the students are advanced in their practice of performing problem-centered and age appropriate medical assessment. Although the course is not an easy one, having a very understanding and helpful professor assisted in the acquisition of knowledge and skills pertinent to the needs of a student to perform complete health assessment. By completing this course, it will enhance the confidence of the nurse to interpret subjective and objective clinical data, apply appropriate diagnostics, and come up with a proper treatment plan. Overall, I must say that the course is an enriching experience for registered nurses and other health care professionals seeking to have knowledge of complete health assessment. Definitely, I would recommend this course to anyone looking to become competent in holistic health assessment.
D’Amico, D., & Barbarito, C. (2016). Health & physical assessment in nursing. Boston: Pearson Education.
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