The Importance of Communication in Nursing

November 1, 2022
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Regardless of the setting a nurse works in, they are on the front line of medical care. From doctors’ offices, to hospitals, to rehab facilities, to home health, nurses provide direct care, treatments, and tend to patients in need. Patients can turn to and count on nurses to fulfill nearly every part of health care – including collecting diagnostic information to deliver care plans.

Delivering effective care requires nurses to have strong communication skills and the ability to build quick and strong connections with patients. While there are many different styles of effective communication nurses can have, someone who is interested in entering the nursing profession should realize the importance of fundamental communication.

The following guide can help you better understand why nurses should be good communicators, and the benefits it offers to good patient outcomes.

Why Do Nurses Need to Be Able to Communicate Well?

Patients seek out health care services because of sickness, they have a chronic condition, are injured, or because they are looking to maintain their health. Because nurses are the primary connection of any of these situations, nursing can be a highly stressful profession. Not only do nurses need to be able to communicate effectively in any of these situations, but they need to do so in a way that builds trust and relieves stress and tension patients often feel during this time.

Nurses need to be able to use and employ the following communication skills to build trust and help deliver effective care:

  • Clear and concise verbal communication that can help put often complex medical terminology in a relatable and understandable way.
  • The ability to be an active listener and ask follow-up questions that get patients to open up and share information.
  • Nonverbal communication, such as being able to read body language and tone, to assess a patient’s state of wellness and mood.
  • Written communication skills, including being able to read and write clearly so other team members and patients can understand.
  • The ability to build trust and personal connections through warmth and compassion.
  • Patient education skills, to help patients understand their condition, how it is affecting them, what the best treatments are, and how to care for themselves.

Having these skills can mean the difference between patients understanding the care they are receiving and becoming frustrated or discouraged from treatment.

Benefits of Good Communication for Nurses and Patients

Effective communication by a nurse enables every stage of the care process to progress smoothly, including:

  • Smoother patient intake: Nurses are often in charge of collecting patient information for admission or to begin care. To ensure useful and accurate information is collected, nurses need to be able to communicate clearly by asking clear and concise questions.
  • Accurate reporting to physicians: Nurses are often the go-between for patients and doctors or other members of the care team. Accurate reporting means that physicians receive the clearest description of the situation and symptoms so they can make the right diagnosis and create a care plan.
  • High-functioning patient care team: Any health care facility, including home care, requires a high-functioning team that runs on good communication. Nurses who can communicate in a clear and friendly way to teammates build an environment where everyone can focus on the patients, and help them feel better.
  • Better patient outcomes: Because nurses are nearly always at the center of care, their ability to assist with educating patients on their condition and treatments are crucial to ensuring that they feel better and take the necessary steps to have the best possible outcome. Additionally, good and compassionate communication helps reduce stress in patients, which allows patients to focus more fully on their recovery.

Good communication is critical for nurses in every single line of service, including home health. Any prospective home health nurse needs to be able to build rapport with the patient and the entire family, think independently, and communicate quickly and effectively with physicians, administrators, caregivers, and other nurses both remotely and in person.

More importantly, home health nursing is about trust and patient bonding. Home health nurses often report feeling like they become a member of the family and deliver one-on-one care to a smaller number of patients. Being able to truly improve the lives of the people they help requires home health nurses to have some of the most exceptional communication skills in a profession that is already built on communicating well.

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