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What is effective communication in nursing?

Updated April 17, 2017

While interpersonal communication is necessary in all aspects of life, it is especially crucial when it comes to nursing. Andy Betts, a freelance nurse consultant and professor at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, claims that "studies over the last three decades identify communication problems as persistent causes for concern in the delivery of health care." Without effective communication in nursing, there can be lack of understanding, poor client care and even medical mishaps.

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Interpersonal communication is essential in effective nursing. Nursing is collaborative and, therefore, relies on the ability of nurses to communicate effectively with each other, the patient and other medical staff members. Interpersonal communication in nursing is what sustains a level of excellence and customer satisfaction, and prevents medical misunderstandings.


Betts says that nursing is "essentially an interpersonal process." Every nurse is an agent of communication, holding the power to understand and be understood. Nurses are given a huge responsibility to communicate effectively and relay all important information accurately and efficiently. When communication breaks down, so does performance.

Social Considerations

Social interactions must be taken into consideration on every level of nursing. A nurse must have the ability to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate social interactions. There are boundaries when it comes to socially relating to a patient. A nurse needs to be understanding, but should never become too socially familiar and involved with a patient, according to Yourcommunicationskills.com.

Approach Considerations

Every nurse is both a teacher and an interviewer. As the teacher, a nurse needs to communicate vital information and ensure he is being understood. As the interviewer, a nurse must listen closely, ask the appropriate questions and have the ability to accurately understand and respond to the answers. A nurse's approach as teacher and interviewer can affect a patient's level of satisfaction, medical procedures and overall experience.


The benefits of effective interpersonal communication in nursing are significant, according to Marilyn Klakovich, the chairman of the College of Nursing at the University of Phoenix. In her writing on the subject, she asserts that the ability to communicate and relate to a patient provides both greater career satisfaction for the nurse and improves the overall health-care system in the United States. Being an effective listener and communicator generally translates to a higher level of care.

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About the Author

Joey Papa lives in the Tampa Bay area, and has four years of experience as a professional copywriter. His years of experience and a bachelor's degree in communications from Oral Roberts University, provide him with creativity, technique and a comprehensive viewpoint to complete a wide array of writing styles.

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