Benefits of a Health Assessment Course for RNs

One of the basics of nursing is the head-to-toe health assessment. As an RN with an associate degree or diploma, you learned to assess patients during the course of your education. You spent numerous hours in the skills lab learning how to listen to heart and lung sounds; you practiced those skills in your clinical rotations; and now you are perfecting those skills in your daily work as an RN. So, why do you need an additional course on health assessment for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)?

A health assessment course in an RN to BSN program expands your current knowledge by focusing on interview skills, health history, and physical and psychosocial findings. The attention is on critical thinking for an individualized holistic approach, including physical, psychosocial, cultural and spiritually sensitive care. Evidence-based assessment and cultural competence skills are integral to all aspects of the course. Included in the course is a more comprehensive approach of both subjective and objective data to enhance your assessments in order to improve your patient interactions as well as your patient history and physical assessments.

Improves Patient Interactions

A health assessment course provides you with specific communication techniques to enhance your interactions with patients so that you can improve your assessment and subsequent interventions. As the collective healthcare industry becomes more cognizant of the cultural diversity in our patients, nurses must build cultural competence. This means learning how to effectively communicate and interact with people from different cultures, as well as learning how to incorporate their cultural perspectives into their holistic care.

A health assessment course will also teach you health literacy concepts and how they apply to your practice. The Institute of Medicine, now known as the National Academy of Medicine, defined health literacy as “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services.” In your coursework, you will focus on how culture, age, education, environmental factors and socioeconomic status may impact your patient’s health history and physical exam, as well as the degree of patient understanding.

Improves Patient History Assessment

A complete health assessment is a detailed examination that goes beyond your basic patient health history. A complete health assessment includes the patient’s social history, past medical history, current physical status, environmental factors, lifestyle choices and genetic factors. From these results, you are able to tailor your nursing plan to include specific interventions for health promotion and disease prevention as well as address your patient’s present illness. This tailored plan will allow you to implement strategies to promote health and minimize risk for other illnesses. For example, you may incorporate education about health promotion behaviors such as tobacco cessation or sun safety.

Improves Physical Assessment Skills

A health assessment course will allow you to take your physical assessment skills to a more advanced level. You will focus on the four techniques for a holistic health assessment: inspection, palpation, percussion and auscultation. Students focus on developing an in-depth level of knowledge on the potential clinical implications of any findings and how that might impact your nursing interventions.

Of course, you will continue using your clinical judgement to determine which assessment elements are pertinent for your everyday patient care. A health assessment course will equip you to conduct a more focused assessment of a specific body system that is related to your patient’s presenting problem or other concerns. In addition to developing your evaluation techniques, you will learn how to better communicate your findings through multidisciplinary communication and documentation.

Learn more about the University of Southern Indiana’s online RN to BSN program.


The Joint Commission: Advance Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy

NCBI: Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion

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