What Are Effective Communication Skills in Healthcare?

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What Are Effective Communication Skills in Healthcare?

When communicating with patients, you must understand their unique style and culture to respond appropriately and gain their trust. To achieve this, you must face your patient and speak to them at eye level. You will also convey mutuality and equality to them. In some cultures, this can be not easy and may even be perceived as a position of power. In such a case, you should consider using body language that is natural for your patient’s culture.

A nurse must listen to the patient to understand their needs and emotions. Listen to nonverbal cues such as tone of voice and emotion. It will help you understand the patient’s needs. According to the American Association, nurses should listen to the speaker’s voice, emotions, and body language to understand what they are saying. Careful listening to the speaker’s tone will help a nurse interpret the message accurately.

Nurses must pay attention to the environment in which they communicate with their patients. If the patient is suffering from a mental health condition, the nurse must be present. Nursing carries the duty to listen and respect the patient’s needs. The nurse should be compassionate. The patient’s state of mind may be depressed, frightened, or even receptive to pain. To communicate effectively with a patient, it is important to put yourself in their shoes. Empathy is a valuable skill when interacting with patients. In addition to listening to the person, the nurses should be sensitive to cultural differences.

On the other side, poor communication, or a lack of communication in Healthcare, can result in patients misinterpreting instructions and failing to follow treatment protocols. It can also cause a team’s workflow to break down, resulting in a medical error. According to Joint Commission research, 80 percent of significant medical errors are caused by inadequate communication in Healthcare during patient transfers.

1. Effective Communication Skills for Healthcare Associates

Spoken Communication

The importance of excellent verbal communication cannot be overstated. Strive to talk with clarity, precision, and honesty at all times. It’s also crucial to understand your target audience and talk appropriately about their age, culture, and level of health literacy. Be conscious of your tone of voice if you are upset or frustrated, and don’t let these feelings show in your patient engagement. You can do the following:

  • Ask open-ended inquiries like, “Can you tell me a little more about that?” to encourage patients to communicate.
  • Instead of patronizing pet terms like “honey” or “sweetie,” utilize the patient’s first or preferred name.
  • Avoid using technical jargon and speak in simple, complete phrases.

Nonverbal Communication

Body language, such as eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, and more, is used in nonverbal communication to convey information. When you meet someone, smiling shows friendliness, welcome, and openness. Everyone, whether they realize it or not, uses nonverbal communication daily.

In contrast to verbal communication, which involves language to communicate information through written text, speaking, or sign language, nonverbal communication relies on witnessing and analyzing physical motions.

Non-verbal communication skills help in Healthcare through:

  • Maintain eye contact and nod your head to show that you are interested in what the patient is saying.
  • Don’t stare, but do smile.
  • When you can, take a seat and lean forward to show that you’re paying attention.
  • Use non-aggressive body language to communicate openness.
  • Nonverbal communication is crucial because it provides us with critical information about a situation, such as how a person feels, how they receive information, and how to approach a person or group of people. Therefore, paying attention to nonverbal communication and honing your ability to read is an important skill you may use at any level of your career.

Active Listening

“Active listening” refers to hearing with the intent of comprehending the other person’s experience. Complete concentration and engagement are required for the greatest and most effective form of listening. This talent is useful not just for clinical nurses but also for nurse executives and other healthcare providers who want to develop trust and commitment among their employees. Both verbal and nonverbal communication skills are required for active listening. Consider the following scenario:

  • Never interrupt; just nod your head.
  • To show you’re interested, lean forward and keep eye contact.
  • Include only a few words of encouragement, such as “I understand” or “keep going.”

Written Communication

Effective nurse-to-nurse communication also requires written communication abilities. You will be in charge of generating and updating the patient’s medical record as a nurse. The medical record must be accurate and up to date for your patients to receive the best care possible. Also, keep patient confidentiality in mind. Some pointers:

  • Make notes right after you finish caring for the patient, so you don’t forget anything.
  • Use simple language and write legibly and clearly.
  • Take careful note of the dates and times.

Did you realize that 75% of youngsters prefer texting to talking on the phone? According to studies, texting and some other types of written communication have become quite popular among smartphone users. You can interact at your own pace with written communication since you can ponder and take your time before composing a message. It is more successful than verbal communication since it aids in efficiently retrieving information. In addition, writing often makes it easier to convey difficult thoughts.

Presentation Skills

Effective presentation skills are especially useful when you’re handing over patient care to another nurse or other healthcare practitioner. These abilities will also aid you in effectively demonstrating your knowledge and competence in a range of workplace situations, including presenting at conferences, engaging in job interviews, and providing case reports to physicians, among others. It’s a good idea to do the following:

  • Prepare a presentation and practice it.
  • Pay attention to both your vocal and nonverbal interactions.
  • For a better explanation, include graphics in your presentation.
  • Know who your audience is and what they expect from the presentation.

Patient Orientation (Patient Teach-Back)

Nurses handle the majority of communication between the healthcare team and patients. This includes providing information about health concerns, diagnosis, treatment plans, and drug regimens to patients and their families. This ability is especially crucial for family nurse practitioners who give health and education counseling to patients and their families.

Patient teach-back is a communication approach in which doctors urge patients to repeat what they’ve told them. This approach increases patient comprehension and encourages patients to follow care guidelines. However, patients and their families may become worried or defensive due to a lack of understanding of facts. For instance, you could say:

  • “We’ve gone over quite a bit of data. To make sure you remember everything, I’d like you to repeat everything back to me.”
  • “Could you please repeat the directions for returning this drug to me?”
  • “Let’s go through what we just spoke about. “Could you please describe it in your own words?”

Creating Personal Bonds

It’s critical to learn about the person behind the patient. Patient-centered connections are essential for patients to feel protected and at ease. Developing meaningful relationships with patients can help to enhance outcomes and build trust. Here are some suggestions:

Please spend a few extra minutes with each patient every day to know them.
Discover an interesting fact about each of the patients.
Show an interest in their life and tell them about your own experiences.


Healthcare providers must earn patients’ trust by actively listening and addressing every complaint and concern seriously. It takes time to build trust. Some patients are afraid of being at a hospital. It’s critical that they feel as relaxed as possible. As they endeavor to build the next generation of nurses, nurse educators and leaders should also cultivate trust. Nurse leaders and educators should do the following to create trust:

  • Tell the truth at all times.
  • Openly share information.
  • Be willing to accept when you’ve made a mistake.

Cultural Awareness

You’ll most likely interact with people from various sociology-economic, cultural, and educational backgrounds every day. Every patient and coworker is different. Therefore it’s critical to be attentive and sensitive to their needs. For example, assess the patient’s English proficiency and adjust your words accordingly, or bring in a translation if necessary. Use their preferred name and pronoun when dealing with Trans and gender no binary patients.


Compassion is a crucial communication skill in the healthcare field. “Studies demonstrate that compassion can assist in spurring speedy recovery from acute sickness, strengthening the management of chronic illness, and alleviating anxiety,” according to the Journal of Compassionate Healthcare. In addition, by placing yourself in the patient’s position and understanding their needs and expectations, you can provide compassionate nursing care.

2. What Are the Barriers in Healthcare for Effective Communication?

The message sent is not always received in an intended manner. Patient-nurse interactions and relationships suffer as a result of communication hurdles in nursing. To overcome them, we must first comprehend the many communication barriers that nurses encounter.

Physical Barriers

The backdrop in which you interact with patients can greatly influence how well you convey. For instance, client anxiety can be enhanced in busy, loud, and distracting environments. Therefore, close windows, open shades, and minimize external sounds wherever possible to establish a comfortable and safe environment.

Social Barriers

Language, religion, culture, age, and norms are all examples of social barriers. Doctors can prevent prejudice and communicate clearly by learning about each patient’s ethnic background. It’s also a great idea to customize your communication tactics to the patient’s age: A 12-year-old and a 70-year-old will have very different perspectives on health services.

Psychological Barriers

A trip to the doctor can be stressful for many clients. Stress and anxiety, as well as dementia and other cognitive diseases, are emotional impediments. Taking extra time to listen, empathize, and help minimize their influence. This type of psycho social support has been shown to improve patient health and well being.

Physicians may even have to face mental obstacles. For example, it can be difficult to talk to patients and family members about death, disease, and other delicate matters. In addition, according to a study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, several nurses face anxiety when discussing patient medical requirements and conditions.


If the patient cannot communicate verbally, the nurse should listen to nonverbal cues to understand the patient’s needs. The American Nurses Association recommends that nurses listen to a patient’s emotional state and tone to understand their patients’ needs better. If the speaker cannot communicate, the American Nurses Association suggests listening to nonverbal cues to make sure they are listening and understanding the patient’s words.

As a nurse, you should always be polite and respectful to your patients. Try to be present with your patients and listen to their concerns and needs. The patient’s condition may be complicated, and the nurse must be present and understanding to avoid misunderstandings. As the nurse, you should keep your body at eye level and face the patient when talking. Your sentences should be short and focused on one topic. When you have a patient’s attention, be observant of their body language. Its words and gestures should be in clear, simple language.

As a nurse, it is important to establish rapport with your patients. This is the only way you can effectively care for them. Often, it is difficult to establish rapport with a patient who cannot communicate verbally. Using appropriate body language will make it easier to connect with your patient. In addition, it is important to be friendly and courteous to both your colleagues and your patients. Do not use technical jargon or inappropriate language when communicating with a patient.

Good communication skills are essential to establishing trust and rapport. As a nurse, you need to be attentive and receptive to your clients’ needs. Whether they are asking you for help, they need to feel important to you. A positive relationship with a patient means a relationship of trust and respect. By demonstrating that you value their opinion and are willing to listen to it, you will build a better rapport with your patients.

About the author

Indu has been educator since last 10 years. She can find all kind of scholarship opportunities in the USA and beyond. She also teach college courses online to help students become better. She is one of the very rare scholarship administrator and her work is amazing.

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