Throughout nursing practice, there are considerable efforts required to develop new perspectives and approaches to improve communication among nurses and with specific patient populations. Nurses must interact successfully with their patients and with each other in order to achieve effective outcomes. It is important to recognize specific strategies that will accommodate specific nursing cultures and how these integrate into other required practices to ensure that patient care is effective and optimal at all times. In conducting a health assessment, it is important to identify specific methods of communication that will improve discussions between healthcare providers and patients. In addition, it is necessary to consider the different communication strategies that will be most effective in specific situations, such as in groups or in one-on-one conversations. Finally, it is necessary to address barriers to communication that may interfere with the quality of care and treatment that is provided to patients. Each of these factors is important in promoting effective communication for nurses and for patients.
Nurses must exercise different methods of communication in the workplace and in working specifically with patients. One of the key factors to consider in this practice is time because there is typically limited time to address concerns with patients and with colleagues in the face of significant workload concerns (Hemsley et.al, 2012). Therefore, time is a critical component in managing communication between nurses and patients in different settings and in supporting the development of new perspectives to ensure that patient care is not compromised as a result of time constraints (Hemsley et.al, 2012). These efforts are important because they provide greater evidence of the ability of time to play a substantial role in how communication is addressed between nurses and their patients in different ways (Hemsley et.al, 2012).
In the context of quality patient care, nurses must demonstrate their willingness to communicate with their patients through the utilization of structure and leadership in supporting effective communication between patients and with colleagues (Baird et.al, 2012). Nurse leaders must recognize that communication is a critical component of nursing practice and that nurses must identify areas of strength and weakness to ensure that patient care is not compromised in any way (Baird et.al, 2012). In addition, nurse leaders must establish the tone and an example for other nurses to follow in their efforts to develop effective communication in group settings and in one-on-one exchanges (Baird et.al, 2012). Also, nurses must develop effective skills to encourage interdisciplinary collaborations with colleagues to promote greater quality of care and treatment in these settings (Coeling and Cukr, 2000). Collaborations of an interdisciplinary nature are designed to strengthen knowledge and address weaknesses within team-based settings to facilitate improved quality of care over time (Coeling and Cukr, 2000). Similarly, team-based environments often encourage new approaches to common patient care problems and facilitate holistic strategies to promote care and treatment that not only support patients, but also clinical staff members in their own learning (Kvarnstrom, 2008).
Effective Communication Strategies
Communication throughout nursing practice requires an effective understanding of the different elements that support idea sharing and positive outcomes. To be specific, “The main intention of communication and interaction in the health setting is to influence the patient’s health status or state of well-being… The process of communication is often described with a phase model; communication often happens during other interventions and tasks. In general, influencing factors can be organized into the categories of provider variables, patient variables, environmental and situational variables” (Fleischer et.al, 2009). From this perspective, it is important to demonstrate that nursing communication strategies are dependent on specific models and indicators that are grounded in other experiences to ensure that patient care experiences and interactions are not compromised (Fleischer et.al, 2009). At the same time, it is important to identify the specific phases of communication that are common in nursing practice in order to accomplish the needs of patient care and treatment in different ways to improve patient wellbeing (Fleischer et.al, 2009).
Many different communication strategies are available to nurses to enable communication to be effective in their associations with other nurses and with patients. Therefore, one strategy to consider is collaborative communication, whereby “Collaborative communication and teamwork are essential elements for quality care and patient safety. Adverse patient occurrences are an extremely common outcome of communication failures…Although improving communication has been included as a Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goal for hospitals since 2003, in 2006, handoff communications were included as a specific communication subset” (Beckett and Kipnis, 2009). Under these conditions, it is expected that effective nursing care and treatment will be achieved through the continued efforts by nurses and nurse leaders to exercise effective communication at all times and to demonstrate the importance of collaborative communication in supporting all aspects of patient care at all times (Beckett and Kipnis, 2009). In particular, situations involving handoffs of patients to the next shift are particularly important in demonstrating that nurses are capable of handling communication in an effective manner (Beckett and Kipnis, 2009). These efforts are also important because they convey the importance of specific needs and challenges that patients face when nurses are unable to communicate effectively with their colleagues and with patients (Beckett and Kipnis, 2009). For many organizations, the basic task of shifting communication styles is important because it provides significant evidence that there are improvements in patient communication by nurses once these strategies are rolled out (Beckett and Kipnis, 2009). Therefore, it is important to identify the strategies that are likely to be most effective in this process and to ensure that they are executed as best as possible in nursing settings and across all population group (Beckett and Kipnis, 2009). This practice is essential to the discovery of new ideas and techniques to demonstrate the successful impact of patient care and treatment in a manner that is consistent with nurse professionalism and strength (Beckett and Kipnis, 2009).
Barriers to Communication
In working with specific population groups, nurses must also demonstrate their ability to engage patients by expressing communication with respect to culture and language differences. Therefore, nurses must be able to effectively communicate with all patients and to recognize that in some cases, there are likely to be barriers to this communication unless interventions are conducted for these patients, such as the use of an interpreter for patients who speak a different language (Fatahi et.al, 2010). This is particularly important when providing technical information to patients to remove language barriers whenever possible so patients better understand what is taking place (Fatahi et.al, 2010).
Oncology nurses, for example, barriers to communication are a common phenomenon that is characterized by the development of specific limitations in communication as a result of the poor translation of information by other healthcare providers, perhaps on different shifts or in different departments, thereby leaving patients and their family members confused regarding the information that they have received (Wittenberg-Lyles et.al, 2013). In addition, the article indicates that “Physician assumptions about nursing left nurses feeling uncomfortable asking for clarification, creating a barrier to team communication processes. Patient-centered communication and care cannot be actualized for nurses unless team roles are clarified and nurses receive training in how to communicate with physicians, patients, and family” (Wittenberg-Lyles et.al, 2013). This example demonstrates that there are significant barriers to effective communication by nurses to patients and their family members, often based upon confusion created by other healthcare providers (Wittenberg-Lyles et.al, 2013). These efforts are important because they convey that there are considerable weaknesses in the communication practices of other nurses and physicians, thereby creating much communication across different departments and nursing units (Wittenberg-Lyles et.al, 2013). As a result, it may be difficult for organizations to overcome these barriers unless additional training and clarification is provided to nurses to ensure that these barriers are eliminated or minimized as best as possible (Wittenberg-Lyles et.al, 2013).
For nurses working with children and parents, there are other types of barriers and challenges that may exist that must be addressed as best as possible. However, some nurses might not possess the appropriate method of working with these patients and should be sensitive to the needs of this specific population group (Redsell et.al, 2010). Therefore, these needs must be met through the understanding of nursing-based perspectives and how these might influence communication in different ways so that the needs of this population are better met during nursing communication practices (Redsell et.al, 2010). The efforts that are made also demonstrate the attitudes of nurses regarding their patients and the treatments that they receive, because in some cases, these perceptions could be distorted by specific beliefs or judgments that are not beneficial to patients (Redsell et.al, 2010). As a result, it is important to identify the specific indicators of communication that are necessary to ensure that patient care is optimized at all times (Redsell et.al, 2010).
For nurses seeking to improve their communication skills, it is important to recognize the value of developing new perspectives and approaches to nursing practice that will enhance communication in different ways. This may involve interventions that are likely to identify problems in such settings as chronic care, for example, so that there are sufficient opportunities to recognize problems to improve communication as best as possible (Boscart, 2009). In many organizations, ”Positive nurse–patient communication in chronic care is crucial to the quality of life and well-being of patients. Despite this, patients are dissatisfied with these interactions and nursing staff indicate the need for additional training” (Boscart, 2009). Therefore, it is necessary to identify specific areas where communication might be improved to reduce barriers and to expand patient compliance in chronic care settings (Boscart, 2009).
Collaborative learning requires successful communication and the elimination of barriers through role clarification and trust amongst team members (U.S. Office of Personnel Management). This is best accomplished through flexibility and a full commitment to the team’s purpose and function (U.S. Office of Personnel Management). Furthermore, the development of effective critical thinking skills is essential in promoting productivity and encouraging a clear approach to a given problem in order to develop an effective solution (Elder and Paul). Higher level thinking and analysis must evolve so that individual contributions to teams and to the patient care experience are effective (Elder and Paul).
The identification and development of successful nursing-based communication strategies with patients and colleagues requires an effective recognition of the different challenges that exist in expanding communication to improve the quality of care. It is important to recognize communication in different settings and how this influences patient care, in addition to strategies that will be effective in supporting communication across different population groups. Finally, recognizing barriers to communication is important in demonstrating the value of taking the steps that are required to improve communication to improve the quality of care. All populations deserve quality care and treatment from nurses at all times; therefore, continuous efforts must be made to accommodate these needs and to eliminate barriers to communication in order to promote successful outcomes and wellbeing for all patients. These contributions to nursing practice are critical because they shape the manner in which nurses identify with their patients and are able to communicate with them in different ways to ensure that patient care and treatment are not compromised in any way. This practice also provides further evidence that patient care is of the utmost importance to nurses and that as such, communication should be taken seriously at all times so that the quality of patient care is not reduced or disrupted by poor communication.
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Elder, L., and Paul, R. Learning the art of critical thinking, pp. 1-6.
Fatahi, N., Mattsson, B., Lundgren, S.M., and Hellstrom, M. (2010). Nurse radiographers’ experiences of communication with patients who do not speak the native language. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 66(4), 774-783.
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Redsell, S.A., Bedford, H., Siriwardena, A.N., Collier, J., and Atkinson, P. (2010). Exploring communication strategies to use with parents on childhood immunization. Nursing Times, 106(19), 19-22.
U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Building a collaborative team environment, pp. 1-2.
Wittenberg-Lyles, E., Goldsmith, J., and Ferrell, B. (2013). Oncology nurse communication barriers to patient-centered care. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 17(2), 152-158.