Date of Conferral



Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


Health Services


Catherine Harris


A primary problem faced by a majority of medical-surgical nurses is a lack of knowledge and skills necessary to improve health literacy among patients. This inadequacy among medical-surgical nurses is often linked to insufficient training on how to identify and interact with patients with lower health literacy. Improvement of patient health literacy can be realized through proper training, education, and a better application of communication strategies. The aim of this project was to improve current medical-surgical nurses' practice guidelines via the use of educational programs. The project developed pilot protocols and policies in order to improve its practical applications. The project was achieved in 6 steps: (a) assembling an interdisciplinary team, (b) reviewing literature and evidence, (c) developing policy and practice guidelines, (d) content validation, (e) creating an implementation and (f) evaluation plan. The team delivered the new policy and guidelines and observed the medical surgical nurses. During the month-long review, nurses who applied guidelines that they had been equipped with were deemed competent. Conversely, nurses who did not show competency were given on-the-spot education and were observed to make sure that they learned the necessary guidelines and practices. These instances were recorded and collected for review. The interdisciplinary team's positive evaluation of the project indicated a potential positive social impact for the 59% of elderly population in need of this specialized care as well as the estimated 36% of American adults who have limited health literacy. Equipping medical-surgical nurses with strategies for effective communication and health literacy when working with either population could help to minimize the readmission rates of patients, and overall number of Emergency Room visitations due to low health literacy.

Included in

Nursing Commons