The primary purpose of a nurse is to interact with patients and provide primary care. The nurse provides emotional support and teaches the patient how to live healthier lives by educating them on nutrition and exercise and comforting them when they feel vulnerable. However, communication between nurse and patient is not merely a matter of comforting words or comforting gestures. The communication between the nurse and patient also involves listening to the patients’ fears and hopes. This communication between nurse and patient develops trust, understanding, and the necessary communication to receive the best medical care.
For this reason, the importance of nurses being able to communicate with each other effectively is overwhelming. As part of their job responsibilities, nurses need to have a solid foundation of communication, which begins within the professional nursing practice itself. For example, to assist the individual to a comfortable resting position, the nurse will often place one arm across the patient’s shoulder and hold that arm with the other free hand. At the same time, the nurses may rotate their hands so that one hand is across the top of the other, forming a V-shape. While this may seem easy on the surface, it is surprisingly difficult to do from a visual communication standpoint since it requires the nurses to turn their entire body to see where their patient is.
In addition to the V-shape method, many nurses engage in “head-to-toe” communication during patient care. Nurses speak to patients directly using a trained level of voice. They use clear, concise words and phrases that make their message clear and concise to the audience. While these methods are widely used within hospitals and other health care facilities, it can be highly challenging for nurses who communicate with the elderly, disabled or otherwise isolated from others within their community.
Many health care agencies have noticed this need for communication between nurse and patient and have worked hard to develop systems that help deliver the messaging of their agencies. Many agencies require all new nurses who apply to work there to complete a minimum number of hours of community nursing. The idea is that those individuals who are receiving health care should understand what is occurring to them. By providing clear and concise communication, nurses ensure that their patients are comfortable with the process and receive every aspect of their care.
For those in the medical field, effective communication is even more critical than in the health care industry. While doctors may prescribe medications and treatments, nurses have a vital role in the treatment process. The relationship between a doctor and a nurse is at the heart of effective communication between them and their patients. Nurse communication is not simply words on a page. To foster an environment of trust between nurse and patient, nonverbal communication is necessary.
In addition to many healthcare educational conferences, a nursing conference now requires that all clinical communication take place using a CC system. A CC system is a computer-based communication system that can be used with a PDA, laptop, tablet PC, or smartphone. This means that a large variety of different devices can be brought into the conference room and that nurses and other clinical communication team members do not need to carry extra devices around. Also, many healthcare organizations have decided that all clinical communication must be done in print. All print materials, including graphs and pictures, are automatically sent to the PDA, laptop, or tablet computer, where all team members can view them simultaneously.
In today’s healthcare environment, improving patient satisfaction scores between nurse and patient is vital to maintaining patient safety and job satisfaction. Without good communication, several safety concerns could arise, resulting in nurse injury, ineffective outcomes for patients, and even nurse burnout.
Without these interpersonal skills, a nurse may not successfully build the trusting relationships that are key to any healthcare team. Effective communication between the nurse and patient may prevent many problems in the future, including injuries, mistakes, and even death.