Efficient communication is critical to the nursing profession, as it assists in the treatment process, fosters a positive organizational climate, and improves patient outcomes. Poor communication, on the other hand, can lead to medical errors and poor quality of care, which make the work of nurses more difficult (Hood, 2013). The present paper will show how communication can assist nurses in their work, focusing on the essential principles of communication in professional nursing and the advantages of using a formulated checklist for handoff communication.
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Essential Principles of Communication in Professional Nursing
The first essential principle of communication in professional nursing is that it is bilateral. According to Hood (2013), bilateral communication ensures that each party participates in communication by sending and receiving messages. The author also suggests that in bilateral communication, the content and meaning of the messages can be influenced by both persons and their intentions (Hood, 2013). Bilateral communication is useful, as it ensures that parties listen to one another instead of merely giving instructions. This, in turn, reduces the possibility of medical errors and prevents conflicts.
Another essential principle of communication is that it must be on-going. As Hood (2013) explains, communication involves verbal and non-verbal components, and thus it takes place even when there is no dialogue. Nurses should be aware of this principle of communication, as it could help them to be more perceptive. In addition, nurse leaders can use non-verbal communication, such as body language, to assure their authority, thus becoming more effective in their position.
Advantages of Using a Formulated Checklist for Handoff Communication
The handoff is one of the key moments in professional nursing practice, as it ensures the continuity of treatment. Using a formulated checklist can help to enhance communication during this process, which reduces the possibility of medical errors and improves patient outcomes (Robins & Dai, 2015). A formulated checklist covers all the essential aspects of a patient’s medical history and treatment, which help the nurses to continue caring for the patient efficiently.
Another significant advantage of using a formulated checklist is that it offers an opportunity to standardize the procedure. It can thus be used by hospital leaders to address errors related to handoff timing or omission of information (Robins & Dai, 2015). With a formulated checklist, it is also easier to identify mistakes in handoff communication before they affect the patient or their treatment. A standardized handoff process can also assist in reducing handoff time and relieving the nurse’s workload. For instance, if a nurse can spend less time on patient handoffs, they would not need to stay at work late. Therefore, using a formulated checklist secures the management’s control over the handoff process while also making it less stressful and reducing the incidence of errors.
Overall, it is clear that communication plays a critical role in the nursing practice and other healthcare processes. Apart from influencing the organizational climate, communication can also improve management and leadership and promote the continuity of treatment. In order to foster effective communication in their organizations, leaders should ensure that the communication is bilateral and ongoing. To reduce the possibility of errors during the handoff process, hospitals could implement formulated handoff checklists. This tool can help nurses to pass on all the vital information about a patient and their treatment while also reducing the time spent on handoffs.
Hood, L. (2013). Leddy & Pepper’s conceptual bases of professional nursing (8th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
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Robins, H. M., & Dai, F. (2015). Handoffs in the postoperative anesthesia care unit: Use of a checklist for transfer of care. AANA Journal, 83(4), 264-268.