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communication in nursing
October 06, 2023
14 min read

Communication in Nursing: Why It Matters and How to Improve It

Communication is a crucial element of nursing practice. It’s the cornerstone of effective care delivery, patient satisfaction, teamwork, and leadership in nursing. So, what makes it so special? Nursing involves more than administering medications and performing medical procedures; it also establishes meaningful connections with patients, their families, and healthcare team members. So, to offer care effectively, nurses need to possess great skills for sharing information.

The Significance of Communication in Nursing

Nursing is about caring for individuals, and communication is vital in helping achieve that. It allows nurses to educate patients about their ailments and provide self-care instructions. It enhances collaboration among care providers, leading to better decisions while minimizing potential risks and misunderstandings between different care participants and recipients. Ultimately, it prevents mistakes and promotes patient safety.

Nurses can improve their professional competence and deliver higher quality care by mastering practical intercommunication skills. The biggest mistake you can make during your studies is taking the great ability for communication in nursing for granted. Some people are naturally good empaths and communicators. But that’s not true. And today, we will talk not only about the importance of well-established intercommunication but also about effective ways to improve it.

A Quick Definition of Communication in Nursing

Communication in terms of nursing refers to the complex process of sharing information, thoughts, feelings, and ideas among caregivers, all healthcare team members, sick persons, and their families. It’s vital for dispensing safe, effectual, and person-centered care. The definition of communication in nursing encompasses both spoken and non-vocal forms of interaction. It also involves various skills, such as speaking, listening, observing, and documenting.

The Impact of Effective Communication in Nursing

You probably heard about the importance of proper intercommunication in boosting patients’ safety, quality of patient care, and overall satisfaction with nursing services. That’s true, as this is what effectively improves patient outcomes by contributing to a safer and more satisfying healthcare experience.

  • Better communication helps sick persons better understand their conditions and inform nurses about them to make better choices on treatment options and care measures provided.
  • Well-established intercommunication channels ensure that crucial info is shared promptly, thus, faster diagnosis and intervention.
  • Effective communication in nursing addresses patients’ emotional and psychological needs, reducing their anxiety and distress due to promoting trust between care recipients and caregivers.
  • An open and transparent intercommunication helps mitigate legal and ethical risks, minimizing the chances of patient lawsuits.

Correct nursing diagnosis and timely interventions are essential. However, that makes no sense when there’s no connection between nurses and patients. That’s why developing excellent soft skills like well-established communication is no less important than learning anatomy, drugs, or any other profile subjects.

Various Communication Barriers in Nursing

While proper nursing communication is critical for delivering care, several barriers can hinder the flow of information. These barriers can compromise information sharing between care providers, sick individuals, and their families.

  • Language hindrances and cultural backgrounds, such as variations in dialects, customs, and beliefs.
  • Limited health literacy among patients.
  • Noise and distractions.
  • Emotional and psychological barriers: patients experiencing anxiety, fear, or distress may have difficulty processing information, making information exchange challenging.
  • Information overload among nurses which can result in confusion and difficulty retaining important details.
  • Privacy and confidentiality: nursing care recipients tend to hesitate to share sensitive information if they are concerned about privacy.

Addressing these communication barriers in nursing requires a combination of education, training, and commitment to person-centered care. Health organizations can also implement better strategies, such as improved intercommunication protocols, and incorporate technological enhancement to promote better information-sharing practices.

What Are the Most Effective Communication Strategies in Nursing

Nurses must possess excellent verbal, non-verbal, and written communication abilities when dealing with patients. The foundations of this are laid during training, and in the process of work, you only hone them, expanding your knowledge base with new cases. You may not have thought about it before, but nurses with good intercommunication skills typically follow these strategies:

  • Verbal communication – refers to one’s ability to speak clearly and concisely when communicating a point.
  • Active listening – involves paying attention, maintaining eye contact, showing empathy, and encouraging people to be open. The strategy also promotes effective communication in nursing leadership.
  • Using plain language, which involves avoiding medical jargon and using simple terms to explain diagnoses and treatments.
  • Proper use of non-verbal information exchange, such as using facial expressions and tone to align with a verbal message.
  • Showing compassion, kindness, and genuine concern for a patient’s well-being.
  • Familiarizing oneself with technological tools such as electronic health records to facilitate information exchange with other healthcare providers.
  • Conflict resolution skills for de-escalating situations and addressing disagreements calmly or professionally.

The above communication strategies in nursing should be useful, but the most important is embracing learning. Information exchange practices evolve with time, and it’s up to nurses to stay updated on the best practices through education, training, and workshops.

Documentation and Technology in Nursing Communication

Nursing communication has evolved significantly thanks to new documentation methods aided by technological advancement. Electronic health records, barcoding, and telemedicine are just some of the various tools nurses can use to deliver safe and efficient care.

Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

EHRs have revolutionized documentation and enhanced communication in nursing and healthcare fields. They have improved the accessibility of patient records and standardization of documentation to prevent inconsistencies caused by human error.


Barcoding scanning is used in medical administration to help guarantee safety. For example, nurses can scan patient wristbands to verify the five rights (right patient, right medication, right dose, right route, and right time), thus preventing medication errors.

Telehealth and Telemonitoring Technology

Nurses can monitor nursing care recipients remotely and provide continual support. Telehealth apps can also provide nurses quick access to drug databases and reference materials useful in facilitating healthcare.

Teaching Communication Skills in Nursing Education

New graduate nurses often lack the proper information-sharing skills to interact with challenging patients, families, and other healthcare professionals. It may lead to stress and burnout. That’s why improving information-sharing skills should be a priority among nursing educators and students. It can be achieved through various ways, including:

  • Integrating intercommunication skills across the curriculum instead of as a standalone subject.
  • Promoting active learning strategies such as group discussions.
  • Introducing students to various information-sharing models and principles.
  • Teaching active listening techniques like paraphrasing and summarizing.
  • Providing guidance on how to deliver difficult news.
  • Using standardized assessment tools to evaluate students’ abilities to communicate effectively.

Simulation and roleplaying exercises are also a great way of improving communication skills in nursing. The method is backed by research conducted in southwestern Pennsylvania at an academic trauma hospital during the pandemic. During the study, residency nurses collaborated in various simulated roleplaying scenarios and were later evaluated. Through role-playing scenarios, nurses involved in the study improved their confidence in message-sharing skills by up to 14%. Educators can help students develop strong information-sharing skills essential for patient-centered care by integrating the mentioned strategies into nursing education.

Improvement of Communication Techniques Nursing

As with any other skill, good intercommunication abilities can and must be developed. Once you master the basics, you should not stop in your development. Here are some ideas you can use to enhance communication techniques nursing:

  • Undertake training programs to boost communication abilities and incorporate role-playing exercises to practice various scenarios.
  • Make regular self-assessments for your intercommunication capabilities to identify areas to improve further.
  • Seek constructive feedback from peers and other medical professionals to understand and address your weaknesses.
  • Collaborate with more experienced mentors in the field to improve information-sharing competence.
  • Take cultural competence training and learn to communicate with patients from diverse backgrounds.
  • Review feedback from nursing care recipients with them and implement the necessary changes.

By improving their communication skills, nurse practitioner students become well-rounded professionals who provide higher-quality care. Furthermore, these skills can serve them outside medical care, such as everyday interactions with people.

Why Is Communication Important in Nursing? Case Studies

Nursing students have to devote their time to developing capabilities to communicate properly to better understand patients and improve medical outcomes. For best results, they have to use a patient-centered care method. In the article “A literature-based study of patient-centered care and communication in nurse-patient interactions: barriers, facilitators, and the way forward,” Kwame, A., and Petrucka, P.M., describe patient-centered care as an approach that involves asking the sick individual about their current knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors connected to the ailment. Let’s check out some case studies depicting the effective exchange of information between carers and patients.

Case Study 1

A nurse is educating a patient who has diabetes about self-care and lifestyle changes. The nurse uses a person-centered approach, which involves asking the patient about their current knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors related to diabetes. She then provides relevant and accurate information, using visual aids and examples to promote understanding. She also assesses the patient’s readiness to change and helps them set realistic and specific goals. Finally, the nurse praises the patient’s efforts and achievements and provides ongoing support and feedback.

Case Study 2

A nurse attends to a patient with chronic pain who is reluctant to take medication. The nurse explains the benefits and risks of the medication and asks the patient about their concerns and preferences. The nurse validates the patient’s feelings and concerns and offers alternative approaches to cope with pain, such as relaxation techniques, distraction, or massage. They agree on a pain management plan that suits their needs and goals.

In both cases, the nurses do everything to make the patients comfortable by being empathetic and listening. They establish trust, reduce their patient’s anxiety, and provide all the necessary information about the treatment to help the patient’s choices. The outcome is a good patient experience that encourages them to follow future instructions.

Closing Remarks

Effectual nursing communication isn’t just a skill but a fundamental element of care provision that significantly influences care delivery, patients’ safety, and satisfaction. It encourages a culture of person-centered care, teamwork, and continuous upgrading in healthcare systems, ultimately resulting in better patient outcomes.


Emerson, Mary Sharp. “8 Ways You Can Improve Your Communication Skills.” Professional Development, Harvard Division of Continuing Education, August 30, 2021. https://professional.dce.harvard.edu/blog/8-ways-you-can-improve-your-communication-skills/. Accessed: September 28, 2023.

Kwame, Abukari, and Pammla M. Petrucka. “A Literature-Based Study of Patient-Centered Care and Communication in Nurse-Patient Interactions: Barriers, Facilitators, and the Way Forward.” BMC Nursing 20, no. 158 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12912-021-00684-2

Leonard, Jacqueline, Kimberly Whiteman, Kimberly Stephens, Connie Henry, and Brenda Swanson-Biearmann. “Improving Communication and Collaboration Skills in Graduate Nurses: An Evidence-based Approach.” The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing 27, no. 2 (2022). https://www.doi.org/10.3912/OJIN.Vol27No02Man03

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