How to Use Hospitals’ Whiteboards as a Coaching Strategy

Exciting steps towards improved communication between L&D nurses and their patients

I’m constantly searching for coaching props and strategies that can help me coach expectant parents throughout pregnancy and childbirth. I have been developing tools and strategies for some time now and excitedly shared them with the community of birth support pros in previous posts and in my book. So, you can imagine my excitement when I came across a few resources affirming the use of white dry-erase boards in L&D for improving communication and maternal care. Whiteboards could help hospitals cut C-section rates,” said one resource and another concluded that “the use of a well-designed whiteboard increases laboring patients’ knowledge of their delivery physician’s name and may improve patient satisfaction with care on Labor and Delivery.”

Nursing staff can effectively use the dry-erase whiteboard to achieve patient engagement and build a partnership with their patients

I believe that writing down the treatment plan and the physician’s name is a good step toward establishing a patient-provider partnership. However, I think we can do much better! L&D Nursing staff can go beyond these somewhat ‘dry’ medical nuggets of information and use the whiteboard, dry-erase or digital, to establish two-sided communication rather than one-sided delivery of information. Why should we minimize the information on the whiteboard to the clinical details and names when we can use it as a powerful coaching strategy?

How can nurses use the whiteboard to establish patient-provider partnerships?

Partnership between providers and their patients was found by the AHRQ  to improve quality and safety of care

How can nursing staff effectively use the dry-erase whiteboard to achieve patient engagement and build the partnership between providers and their patients, that was found by the AHRQ (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) to improve quality and safety of care? I’ve got some wonderful ideas to share. Here is what I suggest writing on the board:

  •  Three most important wishes/goals of the patient for her birth experience.
  • Three strategies that can help the patient cope with labor pain or moments of distress.
  • Things the patient wishes to avoid.
  • Patients’ preferred environment.
  • Patients’ satisfaction with care providers so far (1-10)

What do you think? Do you see how having this information on the board can help increase vaginal healthy deliveries and patients’ satisfaction level?

How Can Birth Coaches Achieve the Same Goal?

A follow-up email with a recap of the prenatal session, that includes a call-for-action, is identical to the whiteboard in eliciting clients’ accountability

As for birth doulas and birth support coaches, sending a follow-up email with a recap of the prenatal session you had with your client with a call-for-action included, is functionally identical to the whiteboard. It strengthens the partnership you establish with your client. It builds trust – she is understood and served well. Additionally, it elicits your client’s accountability level and her commitment to her desired birth experience. Join the Birth Support Coaching course and learn to lead a series of prenatal coaching sessions and to elicit clients’ accountability to their healthy birth.

Neri Life-Choma
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hospital birth, medical interventions in childbirth

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