The Role of Communication in Nursing

Communication consists of individuals or groups of people exchanging information through conversation or action. All living beings communicate. For humans, the transference of knowledge, facts or details forms a part of communication. Effective communication in nursing is about more than conversing. Patients and nurses need a solid rapport in order to ensure the delivery of optimal healthcare.

Why Is Good Communication Important in Nursing?

Direct, compassionate and informative communication aids in decreasing errors and increasing the amount of successful patient outcomes. Communication is achieved both verbally and nonverbally. Nurses may distribute and receive information through speaking, writing, gestures and facial expressions. During a shift, a nurse’s daily interaction may include communicating with the following people:

  • Patients.
  • Patients’ family members.
  • Other nurses and healthcare professionals.
  • Physicians.
  • Nurse managers.
  • Administrators.

How Do Nurses Effectively Communicate?

Nurses should demonstrate a sincere intention to understand the needs and concerns of their patients. They may have to adapt how they communicate with patients depending on each patient’s age, health literacy, cultural background and religious beliefs.

Patients admitted to hospitals or suffering from medical emergencies may experience anxiety. To facilitate communication, nurses need to establish a candid and honest relationship with patients. This allows patients to have a say in their healthcare. Instead of being told what is going to happen, patients become part of the discussion and have the opportunity to make an educated decision about their progress. These methods can help nurses communicate more effectively:

  • Use a patient’s name when communicating.
  • Focus on the patient without distractions and listen attentively.
  • Make eye contact, talk slowly, smile and keep body language positive.
  • Avoid jargon and medical terminology that is hard to understand.
  • Repeat or summarize what the patient said for clarity and accuracy.
  • Explain to the patient what you are doing and why.
  • Do not overwhelm a patient with too many details at one time.
  • Ask patients to repeat back the information.

What Are Some Barriers to Communication?

Everyone has different requirements for communication so nurses have to be aware of a patient’s preferences. Some patients might feel overwhelmed with too much information while other patients may prefer specific explanations about their diagnosis, treatment options, procedures and prognosis. In addition, nurses can encounter communication barriers, which may occur due to the following:

  • Distressed emotional state.
  • Inability to respond because of unconsciousness, sedation or intubation.
  • Language barriers.
  • Hearing or vision impairment.
  • Negative preconceptions of nurses and other healthcare professionals.
  • Cultural beliefs and values.

How Do Nurses Learn About Communication?

The curricula in online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) programs prepare students to communicate with patients, families, healthcare team members, staff and peers. Nurses are prepared to apply their communication skills in all specialties and healthcare settings.

What Are the Benefits of an Online RN to BS in Nursing Program?

Online RN to BSN programs are created for registered nurses with associate degrees who want to advance in their careers. In these programs, students learn how to use clinical reasoning and analytical skills in nursing. They also learn about a broader scope of practice and develop an awareness of cultural and socioeconomic factors that affect patients, which can influence the delivery of care.

Fitchburg State University offers a flexible, affordable program that holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Students may complete the program in as few as 12 months depending on their schedule.

Quality communication is essential to patient safety, satisfaction and favorable outcomes. Without constructive dialogue, a breakdown can occur in a nurse’s relationship with a patient. Nurses must competently provide quality care and meet the expectations of patients. Good communication encourages patients to voice their fears and opinions, while empowering them to proactively participate in a plan to improve their health.

Learn more about the Fitchburg State online RN to BS in Nursing program.


Nursing Times: Good Communication Helps to Build a Therapeutic Relationship

Materia Socio Medica: Communication in Nursing Practice

HealthStream: The Importance of Communication in Nursing 5 Ways to Improve Your Nurse Communication Skills

Registered Nursing: Therapeutic Communication: NCLEX-RN

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