Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care
Transforming health care through partnerships

Preparing Patients and Families as Educators

  • Explain the goals of the educational event and why the perspective of patient and family members is important.
  • Clarify expectations for participation and emphasize that patients and families bring unique expertise, i.e., their real-life experience in the health care system and their suggestions for change.
  • Reassure patients and families that their participation will be respected and valued by clinicians.
  • Give anticipatory guidance about content of the educational event and try to predict what may be especially evocative for patient and family educators.
  • If patient/family educators will be sharing their stories, provide guidance about doing that effectively – and how stories can be integrated with other formats and approaches in education.
  • If Q & A will be part of the educational event, empower patients and families to "speak up" if/when they are not comfortable responding to some questions.
  • Outline nuts-and-bolts details and logistics, e.g., submission of PowerPoint slides and handouts, other participants, travel arrangements and directions (if applicable), expenses and reimbursement, attire.
  • Provide initial guidance about returning home, i.e., reactions patient and family educators might have, strategies for addressing them.

(Adapted from IPPC's "Families as Educators: Guidance for Implementation")