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According to our nursing program leadership, one of the most common skillsets that employers find lacking in the workplace is soft skills, including communication. As a nurse, communicating with your patients and interprofessional colleagues will be crucial to your career. As you advance in your career, this skill will only become more important as you gain more responsibility and accountability in the workplace.

Improving Patient Education and Adherence

Patient communication and education are a major part of every nurse’s job. In this new decade of healthcare, patients (and their family members) often arrive at appointments after doing their own research online. They may also be nervous and scared about their visit. As a nurse and care provider, you will need to be ready to answer your patients’ questions, provide additional resources, and even seek the input from other interdisciplinary professions.

Other aspects include understanding the need to serve a diverse patient population, preparing to adjust your communication style, and utilizing resources to fit the unique needs of each patient. Remember that no patient is the same and every patient deserves individualized attention. “Care is patient centered and communication is key. With globalization and multiculturalism at the forefront, we need to assure that our patients understand what we are communicating,” says Dr. Darlene Sperlazza-Anthony, Program Director of South University, Savannah’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner program. “The teach-back method is one option for assuring that the patient understands the information being presented. Utilizing patient educational materials printed in a language the patient understands is also valuable.”

When nurses take enough time to ensure patients have the knowledge needed, their patients are likely to have greater success in achieving health and wellbeing. In addition to providing thorough guidance and avoiding overly technical jargon, asking patients questions and listening carefully to the answers can go far in promoting trust and inspiring patients to follow your recommendations, even when that means a change in lifestyle. Having these discussions with patients can also help you to identify issues that might otherwise have been missed.

Streamlining Workplace Collaboration

In today’s complex healthcare environment, good teamwork, listening and communication skills are a necessity for the collaborative decision-making required for quality patient care. Physicians, nurses, pharmacists and physician assistants, among others, must all have the competency to communicate and function effectively in multidisciplinary teams.

“Teamwork and communication are critical in nursing care. It offers increased patient safety and better outcomes,” asserts Dr. Sperlazza-Anthony. “Core team members such as the physician or Advanced Practice Nurse will work regularly with the ancillary team members,” she states. “All team members should be ready to communicate with concise and precise information to enable optimal patient care.”

When discussing patient care with colleagues, Dr. Sperlazza-Anthony advises that you focus on clearly stating your observations, advocating for equal treatment for all patients, and working to establish shared plans and goals through evidence-based, expert decision-making.

Establishing a Strong Basis for Patient and Colleague Interactions

Whether you’re talking with patients or coworkers, being a strong communicator requires forming strong relationships, says Dr. Sperlazza-Anthony. “We are all apt to speak more openly to someone we trust, that seems interested, and shows that they truly care about their patients or colleagues,” she shares. “Often times good communication starts with good listening skills. Do unto others as you would have done to you!”

If you’re looking to level up your nursing skills, South University’s nursing programs can help you to grow and strengthen both your technical and professional nursing skills, including communication and teamwork. With options online and on-campus, our programs include a RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program, MSN and RN to MSN programs, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and post graduate certificate programs. We also offer a BSN program to prepare students for pursuing a start within the nursing field. Explore our full nursing program offering and find the right program for you today!