As frontline workers in healthcare, nurses rely on communication for all aspects of their jobs. Strong verbal and written communication skills are central to improving health outcomes, fostering relationships with co-workers, patients and families, and navigating complex situations.
Advancing in the field of nursing involves developing leadership skills and cross-cultural competencies needed to work with diverse populations of patients, families and colleagues.
How Can Good Communication Impact Patient Health Outcomes?
Nurses learn about their patients’ needs, concerns and health issues through communication, which involves active listening. Making this effort to communicate with patients impacts the accuracy of diagnoses and the quality of care.
Communication between healthcare professionals, whether nurses, doctors, specialists or administrative staff, is the basis of care, monitoring, treatment and revision. These communications are verbal, interpersonal interactions between nurses and staff as well as written interactions in the form of notes, end-of-shift and other reports, and electronic records.
Clear, concise communication through these channels ensures the continuity of patient information through the healthcare system, in turn affecting the quality of care.
What About the Nurse/Patient Relationship?
The nurse’s role is to support patients and improve their health and well-being. It’s essential for nurses to develop a relationship with patients in order to foster trust, comfort and mutual respect. When nurses build this relationship to ensure honesty and transparency, they can gain a holistic understanding of their patients’ needs. The accuracy of medical diagnoses also depends on this relationship. Patients are usually more forthcoming with nurses when they feel respected and understood.
Fostering relationships with patients from all backgrounds necessitates strong intercultural communication skills and understanding. Forming positive relationships with the patient’s family and loved ones also contributes to the overall quality of care. Important people in the patients’ lives are integral to their care, offering support and strength through treatment and rehabilitation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the importance of communication in nursing. Safety precautions surrounding viral exposure and spread often prevent families from visiting patients in healthcare facilities. Through the use of modern virtual communication technologies, nurses are bridging the gap between patients and their loved ones.
These virtual communication skills have also allowed for healthcare through telehealth visits. By developing competency and comfort with communication technologies, healthcare workers have been able to safely address many patient needs remotely.
How Can Communication Affect the Health of Nurses?
Good communication is also essential for maintaining the health of healthcare workers themselves. As highlighted by the pandemic, nurses are often overworked, stressed and exposed to dangerous circumstances. This can lead to burnout and other negative mental and physical conditions for them. Nurses often overlook their own needs and well-being to help others. Keeping one’s co-workers, supervisors, family and friends abreast of one’s circumstances is important to mitigating and preventing these conditions.
Communication, both verbal and written, is an integral part of the nursing profession. It allows nurses to be effective in their roles, improving the efficacy of the healthcare provided, the patient experience and the nurse’s own well-being.
Learn more about UHV’s online RN to BSN program.
Harvard Public Health: The Importance of Effective Communication in Healthcare Practice
NCBI: Communication in Nursing Practice
NCBI: Effective Health Communication – A Key Factor in Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic
Nursing Times: Communication Skills 1: Benefits of Effective Communication for Patients