Nurse guide to effective communication

healthcare long term care senior

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Communication happens all the time and is essential to interaction in the workplace. Effective communication is much more valuable and sought after. Communicating effectively is important in any setting, be it professional or personal. Communicating effectively as one of your nurse skills is crucial in the sense that people’s health is at stake. Also, since nurses are oftentimes the go-between for the doctor and patient, understanding and being understood are of the utmost importance so that the doctor can have correct and actionable information. So to help prepare you for being an effectively communicative nurse, behold, a nurse guide to effective communication!!

The Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) is a survey given to patients to rate their caregivers and their interactions with them. Work on mastering the below 6 skills and not only will you score a high survey score but you’ll be able to add “effective communicator” as a nurse skill within your field!

Non-Verbal Queues 

Non-verbal nurse communication begins the moment you walk into a patient’s rooms. A patient and the patient’s family will be assessing both what you say and what you don’t. You can deliver good news but if your body language doesn’t match, the good news can fall flat. Make eye contact and control the tone of your voice and add a smile here and there. All of that can ease a lot of tension and worry.

Active Listening

Communication isn’t just talking, it’s listening as well. Listen so that you understand and not just to respond. If you’re not totally clear on something your patient says, ask for clarity. If your response to a patient doesn’t align with what they said to you, the patient’s questions will go unanswered and you will have to repeat the interaction all over again. No one wants to waste anyone’s time doing that.

Build Trust

Building trust with your patient is one of your nurse skills that can never be overstated. Keep your word and never promise anything to the patient or their family that you’re not certain you can keep. This will be a sure-fire way to lose their trust. When a patient trusts you they believe in you. They will do just about anything to make your life easier and they will be a pleasure to be around.

Display Compassion

You never know what a patient might be going through. They could be petrified of being in a hospital. They could feel like a burden on their family and the nursing staff too. This might be the first time in their lives that they’ve had to rely on someone else’s care. In any case, try putting yourself in their shoes and be as empathetic as possible. Your patient will feel the authenticity of your compassion and that alone can calm their concerns. So take all of their concerns seriously no matter how small or inconsequential they may seem to you.

Educating Patients

All of the medical jargon can make a patient’s and their family’s heads spin. Putting it into terms your patient can understand and taking the time to help them learn what is happening to them and the actions being taken will not only make them more cooperative but it will also make them feel like part of the team. Your patient won’t just feel like a science experiment being poked and prodded.

Verbal Communication

Verbal communication is probably the primary of all your nurse skills that you will leverage on the job. However, one of the easiest things to do when speaking to someone is to forget who your audience is. If you have an elderly patient for instance, don’t insult their intelligence but be aware that they might not grasp all things technology. Use non-technical terms with them so that things make sense. Get in closer if your patient is hard of hearing but don’t shout. Speak in clear sentences and pay particularly close attention to your tone when speaking to different patients. As one of your nurse skills, verbal communication can lay the foundation for all other components of effective communication.

So there you have it. Follow these steps and you’re well on your way to becoming a more effective communicator and adding this to your nurse skills!


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