Effective Communication Skills for Nurses and Healthcare Professionals

Nurses smilingCommunication skills include both verbal and non-verbal messages that people use when interacting with others. These messages can include such things as words, phrases, facial expressions, sign language, body language, gestures and voice tones.

Communication Skills for Nurses and other Healthcare Professionals

Effective communication skills are extremely important in the healthcare field. This is because they help to build and maintain strong relationships between both healthcare professionals and patients, and healthcare professionals and their associates. There are many reasons that healthcare professionals must have effective communication skills, such as:

  • Explaining a diagnosis, condition or treatment
  • Discussing treatments, conditions and diagnosis with patients
  • Speaking with family members
  • Speaking with other healthcare professionals
  • Communicating bad news


  • Obtaining consent for various procedures
  • Calming down upset patients or relatives
  • Explaining medications
  • Educating people on proper diet and exercise

Difficult Patients

Nobody likes to be sick, and when some people are, they can be quite difficult to deal with since it becomes a barrier to communication. Difficult patients often seek treatment because they have to, not because they want to. Some of them are even unwillingly brought to healthcare facilities by their family or friends.

Healthcare professionals need excellent communication skills when dealing with difficult patients. These skills will help them to calm patients down and put them at ease. When medical personnel know how to communicate well with patients, they can better achieve their goal of treating and helping them.

Using effective communication skills makes it much easier to accomplish such tasks as obtaining medical histories, performing physical examinations and administering treatments.

Tips for Improving Communication Skills: Healthcare Professionals 

Nurses healthcare professionals, Nurse

Nurses healthcare professionals, Nurse—Walt Stoneburner (Flickr.com)

  • Always be honest with your patient. If you tell your patient you are going to do something, do it. If you were unable to do as you had promised, then give them an explanation why it was not possible or ideal for their situation.
  • Be available and responsive to your patients. Nobody likes to feel ignored and patients and their families can become quite upset if they feel they are not being heard or attended. This is especially so if a patient’s diagnosis is more complicated and harder to understand.
  • Take into account your patient’s cultural background when communicating with them, whenever possible. Make sure that if you hold a patient’s hand in sympathy, for example, that it is not considered an inappropriate gesture in his or her culture.

In the end, as healthcare professionals, we must put ourselves in the other person’s place when communicating with them and try to understand why they are behaving the way they are and what we can do to help them feel a little better.

Finally, continue to look around this website for other ways to learn to improve your communication skills and the keys for effective communication.

Want to further your learning? Check out these useful books:

Communication for Nurses: Talking with Patients Communication for Nurses: How to Prevent Harmful Events and Promote Patient Safety Therapeutic Communications for Health Care Ending Nurse-to-Nurse Hostility: Why Nurses Eat Their Young and Each Other

 

Watch this video on Effective Healthcare Communications:

 

Other Useful Resources
Management of the Difficult Patient – AAFP
Registered Nurses – Bureau of Labor Statistics

5 Responses to “Effective Communication Skills for Nurses and Healthcare Professionals”

  1. Mike says:

    While nurse-to-patient communications is vital, the same could be said for nurse-to-nurse communications. If there is conflict between nurses that cannot be resolved, it could affect patient care.

  2. Haruna usman says:

    Very educative and well understood,more grass to ur elbows.

  3. Erline Wilterdink says:

    This topic is not as simple as it seems. Thanks for the clarification.

  4. Brenda says:

    It’s always so helpful when a healthcare professional explains things to you and doesn’t just “assume” you won’t understand.

  5. Darcee MacGregor says:

    I agree. These are really good tips. I usually hate going to hospitals or clinics because the nurses will just do things to me without explaining why or what they were doing. They will just stick me with needles. I think for some people, this would make them very irate. I think I might just casually mention this post to them… ;)

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