Our faculty members agree--among the most meaningful skills you can have as a nurse is the ability to communicate well with your patients and with your colleagues.
Collaboration among Healthcare Providers
In today’s healthcare environment, teamwork is routine. Physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists and social workers, among others, are all expected to be able to effectively communicate and function in multidisciplinary teams.
“We’re there as a team, not as an individual nurse practitioner or as their physician or their physical therapist. We’re all working to achieve that quality outcome for the patient,” says Donna McHaney, DNP, RN, APRN, FNP-BC, an Assistant Professor and Program Director for Graduate Nursing Programs at South University, Online Programs, who will be speaking on the topic of Healthy Communications in an upcoming CE series on Nurse.com
In her own communications, Dr. McHaney strives to be straightforward, clear, and precise. On working with colleagues, she explains, “I try to listen and really hear what the other team members are saying. I try to treat everyone like I would want to be treated and to treat everybody as equal, no matter what their role is.”
Cherie Howk, PhD, FNP-BC, Assistant Professor in the Graduate Nursing Programs at South University, Online Programs agrees that successful teams require good communication.
“With physicians, once you establish that you do have a good foundation of knowledge, that they can trust you, that you will come to them if you have questions and that type of thing, that’s an important piece,” says Dr. Howk. “Establishing trust and being able to communicate openly and honestly--that helps more than anything.”
If you don’t know something, says Dr. Howk, admit it and volunteer to look it up--or ask someone else for help. “I think it’s important that you can be a helpful resource for the people you work with and that they can be a resource for you in return,” she explains.
The Importance of Educating Your Patients
In an age where patients have access to more information than ever before, skills in patient communication are also greatly valued. “Patients are very savvy. They get on the internet and they research,” says Dr. McHaney. “We have a lot of patients who come into the clinic and ask, ‘Why aren't you doing this? It says this on the website.’ We have to address those kind of things. We have to explain to them why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
Dr. Howk agrees, “They come to their appointments very prepared and interested in you either supporting what they say or giving them more information to teach them about staying healthy and what’s going on with their health right now.”
These patients, says Dr. Howk, greatly appreciate the thorough guidance provided by nurse practitioners. “They love nurse practitioners,” says Dr. Howk. “They love us because we take time with them, we talk to them, and we ask them, ‘What do you think? How do you think this fits into your life? Will you be able to do these things that will help you stay healthy or get well?’ We don’t just say, ‘This is what you have to do.’ We work with them to incorporate changes into their lives.”
Dr. McHaney agrees that the patient-nurse relationship is a large reason why patients hold nurse practitioners in high regard.
“In a patient-centered environment, it’s very important that the patient and their family be involved in their care choices,” she says, explaining, “When we become nurse practitioners, we’ve already evolved our skills at knowing our patients and we have an understanding of patient care at the level of the patients, so I think it makes a big difference.”
Sign up for a Healthy Communication CE Course at No Cost to You
To learn more about healthcare communications, sign up for the Healthy Communications continuing education course and webinar series, co-sponsored by South University and available at no cost to you. The series includes a presentation from Dr. McHaney and covers topics such as rounding, hand-off communication, discharge education, nurse bullying, and inter-professional collaboration.
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