Communication in Nursing Practice

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Successful care in the healthcare setting is dependent on proper communication between nurses and patients. In this regard, it is important that nurses understand the principles of communication to assist the patients while demonstrating proper values of courtesy, sincerity, and kindness. Additionally, proper communication takes account of the people around the patient. Therefore the choice of language will be based on the understanding of both the patient and their caregivers. More so, proper communication should meet the needs of education and patient experience. The importance of communication in nurses is that it plays a role in the reduction of medical errors increasing the safety of patients.  Communication is the basis of genuine and proper relationships between nurses, patients, and other healthcare personnel.

Verbal and nonverbal communication

There are different types of communication in any care setting. The first classification is verbal and nonverbal communication. Verbal communication is in form of words of the mouth and it can be used by nurses to assess the state of their patients. verbal communication involves the establishment of a dialogue between two or more individuals. This form of communication is also used by patients to inform the healthcare practitioners on the state of their health.  In nonverbal communication, nurses use other cues apart from voice the cues include body language, touch, eye contact, and body posture, facial expression among others as a means of communication. An example of effective use of nonverbal communication is touch. It is mostly used when there is need to express emotion and in most cases, it happens instinctively. For instance, holding a patients hand or placing it on the shoulder may be interpreted as a sign of comfort. Another example is that keeping eye contact with the patients builds rapport with the patients. However, nonverbal communication can be interpreted differently depending on the religion and cultural background.

Formal and Informal Communication

Formal communication is addressed in hospital documents and policies.  Such communication is used by nurses when putting across instructions and hospital policies to the patients and their families. Formal communication is structured and rigid having little or no room for deviation or feedback. Informal communication, on the other hand, is used when there is need for more interaction between the nurses and the patients. Informal communication, therefore, allows for deeper communication and understanding between the patient and nurses. Good conversational skills are required to ensure that nurses effectively break down any barriers and engage the patients in an appropriate conversation. The choice of a nonverbal form of communication is dependent on the type of message that should be put across (Park & Lee, 2003).

In instances where the patients have been involved in accidents or have adverse medical conditions bringing about various changes in the body. Conveying such news to the patients requires proper communication. For example, it is advisable that healthcare practitioners do not use facial expressions in such patients. In this regard, nurses ought to adopt the use of nonverbal communication depending on the situation (Park & Lee, 2003). Dealing with special individuals such as the elderly, physically and mentally impaired requires effective communication cues. Therefore the type of communication is dependent on the nature, condition, and needs of the patient.

Written Communication

Written communication is another effective form of communication that is mainly applicable to those patients who are admitted to the hospitals. Once admitted the patient's details are entered in a file that includes all the personal and medical information. Correspondingly nurses notes are kept together with the information so that the other healthcare professionals can also monitor the progress of the patient drawing from accurate insights. In this form of communications, nurses can understand the needs of the patients reading from the patient’s routine. In this regard, good record keeping based on proper written communication is important in nursing practice and results in the provision of effective and safe care. At the beginning of each working shifts, the written documents have to be handed over to pass on the information to the next batch of professionals. Any misunderstandings are cleared verbally without having to review the notes.

Technology-aided communication

In cases where the patients cannot communicate on their own, technology aided devices may be used to make such information clear. Additionally due to technological advancements in the field of nursing nurses now navigate online charting systems to update health records and schedule care for their patients (Riley, 2015). In other hospital settings, pagers and phones are being used to improve quality of care. Such devices require training and their benefit is to assist in closing the communication gap. Ultimately the devices have resulted in increased efficiency in the provision of care.

Signs and symbols

 In the nursing practice, signs and symbols are extensively applied as a form of communication. In most cases, this form of communication is commonly used by nurses to each other as well as to other staff members. The benefits of this form of this communication are that it allows for fast convey of information between people without the lengthy procedures. Additionally, since the signs are only known to specific people than it possible to pass on confidential information and details between people (Riley, 2015).

In all the types of communication discussed, one common aspect is listening. The nursing practice requires concentration and attention mobilizing all the senses for the perception and interpretation of both verbal and nonverbal cues of communication. By listening to the nurses understand the needs of the patient and can then effectively pass the information to the other healthcare practitioners or to the family members and the caregivers. Proper communication allows for the establishment of good relationships that are based on trust and understanding. Ultimately the proper choice of type of communication results in improvement of quality of care.

The healthcare setting is characterized by people with different personalities.  The ease of communication changes particularly when people are under stress. Therefore, several types of communication have been devised to ensure that correct information is passed across. Ultimately the proper communication results in maximization of patients comfort and improve the efficiency of treatment. Evidently, nurses are the hub of communication playing the role of conveying information between family members, patients, and caregivers (Riley, 2015). The ability to establish effective communication is based on an understanding of the patient's needs.


Riley, J. B. (2015). Communication in nursing. Elsevier Health Sciences.

Park, K. M., & Lee, B. S. (2003). Relations between the types of communication and, job satisfaction and nursing performance in staff nurses. Journal of Korean Public Health Nursing, 17(2), 317-332.

October 13, 2023




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