Communication with Patients: 10 Ways to Improve Communication

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By AMN Healthcare

June 14, 2021



10 Ways to Improve Communication with Patients

This article was provided by: AMN Healthcare.

While nurses deal with doctors, fellow nurses, and other medical personnel, one of the most important parts of their role is talking to patients. Communication plays a huge role in patient care. Learning how to improve communication skills will make you a better nurse by enabling you to better understand your patient’s needs.

Considering your patient’s perspective is key to preventing encounters that resemble any kind of conflict. Sometimes, the best way to achieve that is to, quite literally, get on their level. You can do this by practicing the following:

1. Assess your body language.

Have your body at the same level as theirs. If necessary, sit in a chair so that you can be face to face and making eye contact. And always face them while speaking.

2. Make your interactions easier for them.

Keep your sentences and questions short, stay on one topic at a time, and explain difficult concepts in clear terms.

3. Show them the proper respect.

Accommodate their requests as much as is safe and prudent. Rather than speaking in commands, offer them choices. Strive to help them maintain their dignity.

4. Have patience.

Due to their age, illness, or cognitive difficulties, they may move and speak more slowly than you do. Give them time to move at their pace. Positive patient communications need not be rushed.

5. Monitor your mechanics.

Speak clearly and slowly, louder than you usually do, but without yelling. Enunciate complex words carefully but use simple language as much as possible.

6. Provide simple written instructions when necessary; use graphics where possible.

Patients coming out of surgery or trauma are less likely to remember everything you’ve told them. An easy-to-follow list of the basic concepts you’ve discussed will help to ensure compliance with their plan of care.

7. Give your patients ample time to respond or ask questions.

This will help them feel like a valued partner in managing their own health and making communicating effectively more likely.

8. Speak slowly.

Nursing is a fast-paced job, and it’s important to be able to relay information quickly to other nurses and doctors. However, when you’re talking to patients, speaking too quickly, or using language and abbreviations they don’t understand can make patients shut down.

9. Don’t be afraid of silence.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but not talking is one of the most important nursing communication skills. Most people find silence during a conversation to be uncomfortable, so if you let there be a pause in the conversation, the patient is more likely to talk to fill the void, giving you valuable information on how they’re feeling physically and mentally, and emotionally.

10. Ask open-ended questions.

Asking yes or no questions makes it too easy for patients to respond in one-word answers, which can mean you don’t get the vital information you need to provide the best level of care. Asking open-ended questions is a nursing communication technique that forces the patient to explain what they’re feeling or experiencing in more detail and makes it easier for you to ask follow-up questions for further evaluation or to create a more specific plan of care.

We hope you found these 10 tips for improving communication with patients helpful. Have you found ways to better communicate with patients? Comment them below. If you would like more tips on travel nursing click here.

If you are a new travel nurse or looking into becoming a travel nurse:

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