Think of all the tools available to registered nurses to help them do their jobs effectively. They have a range of factors from medical equipment and supplies, a constant stream of information made possible by the internet age, and the support of other medical professionals, who now work as the care team thanks to the new outcome-based healthcare model the United States is adopting. But even with all of these things in play, communication is still the best tool registered nurses have at their disposal.
Communication is critical in the arena of healthcare. It’s absence, would be it impossible to treat patients in a team setting and still have everyone on the same page. Communication is especially critical to the registered nurse given that he or she is the one who tends to spend the most time directly interacting with patients.
Communication in Nursing Practice, an article published by the National Institutes for Health in 2014, defines communication in the arena of nursing care as “a transaction and message creation.” It is a transaction in the sense that the registered nurse is dealing either with patients or other healthcare providers to come to some sort of agreement about care. It is message creation inasmuch as nurses play an integral role as intermediary between patient and other care providers.
Getting to Know Patients and Families
The need to communicate is an intrinsic part of being human. Unfortunately, we don’t all communicate the same way. One of the toughest jobs of a registered nurse is, learning how to communicate on multiple levels so that interacting with patients with difffernt personality types isn’t an issue. The best nurses are those, who are able to get to know patients on a level that is personal, makes the patient feel comfortable and still maintains the highest level of professional conduct.
Along with getting to know a patient comes the task of getting to know his or her family. This is especially important in a long-term care situation. Families have a right to know what is going on and have a right to contribute to the decision-making process on behalf of their ill loved ones. That means getting to know families is as important as getting to know the patients themselves.
Communicating with Other Healthcare Providers
The authors of Communication in Nursing Practice made a very poignant point in their article about message creation and receipt. What they said, in essence, is that the message created by the registered nurse is not necessarily the same message received by patients or other healthcare providers when it is communicated. This is so because different people think differently.
This reality is important to recognize when registered nurses are communicating with other healthcare professionals. Remember that nurses are trained to go above and beyond mere diagnosis and treatment to offer personal care to patients. What might be important to them as caregivers can be lost on a hospitalist doctor or GP. So just like a nurse has to learn how to communicate with different kinds of patients, he/she also has to do the same for other healthcare providers on the patient’s team.
A registered nurse who manages to master the art of communication is one who will do right by patients more often than not. He/she will be in the best position to provide adequate care, keep the healthcare team informed, work with family members to ensure patient comfort, and guide daily decision-making through experience and observation. The result is a positive outcome for patients and family.
NIH – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3990376/