Nurses practice in a wide-range of settings, and they work with diverse populations. No matter their specialization, nurses are focused on patient-centered care. And that begins with assessment.
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) can help strengthen this essential practice. The online RN to BSN program at the University of Southern Indiana (USI), for example, includes core coursework in health assessment. RNs can continue working while they earn their degree, applying newfound skills and strategies with every shift.
What Is Health Assessment in Nursing?
Regardless of where RNs deliver care, they're guided by the scope and standards of practice of the American Nurses Association. According to the ANA, assessment is the first of six components in the nursing process:
- Outcomes Identification
- Implementation (coordination of care and health promotion)
Health assessments include both a physical and a psychosocial component. In addition to observation, nurses gather data for a physical assessment by reviewing the patient's health history, conducting a physical examination and obtaining a patient's family history.
Performing a psychosocial assessment allows RNs to gauge a patient's current mental state. The process begins with a psychosocial interview. Nurses may ask how a patient is feeling and enquire about interests and activities. Other assessment tools include mental status examinations and psychosocial screenings.
Assessments also vary depending on influential health factors, including the patient's age. Pediatric nurses might investigate birth history, school status, family composition, safety concerns and a family history of mental health. Geriatric assessments might cover chronic disease, living situation and support systems.
How Does an RN to BSN Program Help?
Most nurses are familiar with health assessments. Diploma and associate nursing programs, however, may not include dedicated courses to fully develop assessment competencies. Online RN to BSN coursework is designed to advance health assessment skills for practicing nurses.
USI's Health Assessment for Registered Nurses course emphasizes:
- The collection of subjective and objective data
- Physical examinations
- Clinical implications of findings
- Evidence-based practice
This course also integrates culturally sensitive care into all aspects of patient assessment. BSN students address barriers to effective communication (including linguistic and cultural differences), and implement assessment strategies accordingly.
Significantly, BSN graduates are recognized for their high-level skills in critical thinking, which drives the nursing process, especially when it comes to assessment. Trust is another important tool, and nurses routinely top the list of most trusted professions in the annual Gallup poll. The process of conducting health assessments is an opportunity to establish rapport with patients, thus building the relationships that are essential to positive health outcomes.
Learn more about the University of Southern Indiana's RN to BSN online.
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