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Interpersonal Communication Skills in Healthcare


According to the Joint Commission (2015), the problem of miscommunication in healthcare persists and tends to have negative impacts on patient outcomes, including those related to safety. Consequently, it is important to analyze one’s workplace from the perspective of communication and collaboration. This paper will focus on the literature that discusses the ways of enhancing communication and interprofessional collaboration. This information will then be applied to a specific hospital located in Miami. The analysis demonstrates that the hospital has notable communication-related strengths, but some additional strategies could be helpful as well.

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Effective Interpersonal Communication Components

Interpersonal communication refers to a relatively intimate form of dynamic interaction which occurs over time between unique individuals, who perform a set of communication-related roles (Weiss, Tappen, & Grimley, 2019). The components of a communication situation include the people involved in it (sender and receiver), the channels that they employ to convey their messages, the messages that they exchange, and the reciprocal interaction process (Arnold & Boggs, 2019). The effectiveness of communication depends on multiple factors; it needs to be respectful, takes into account well-defined personal boundaries, involves active listening, and incorporates reasonable strategies to preventing and effectively resolving conflicts (Arnold & Boggs, 2019; Weiss et al., 2019). In addition, both the sender and receiver of a message need to be aware of the existing or potential barriers to communication and demonstrate communication skills (Arnold & Boggs, 2019). Thus, the effectiveness of communication depends on the sender and receiver to a notable extent.

The Importance of Interprofessional Collaboration

Interprofessional collaboration refers to the cooperation between individuals who belong to different fields within healthcare. The successful collaboration and communication of diverse professionals are crucial. They are necessary for patient safety as evidenced by ineffective collaboration, which results in adverse patient outcomes (Joint Commission, 2015), and effective collaboration and teamwork, which are related to improved outcomes (Arnold & Boggs, 2019; Weiss et al., 2019). Thus, healthcare professionals need to employ various strategies aimed at promoting interpersonal collaboration.

Interpersonal Communication and Interprofessional Collaboration

The two above-presented categories can be connected. Indeed, interprofessional collaboration does involve communication, and effective communication is a requirement for good healthcare outcomes (Joint Commission, 2015; Weiss et al., 2019). As a result, well-prepared professionals who demonstrate good communication skills, as well as awareness of the barriers to communication, would be expected to arrange improved interprofessional collaboration. The connection between these parameters further highlights their importance and mutual dependence.

Strategies to Promote Interprofessional Collaboration and Teams

Given the significance of skills and knowledge as an element of effective communication, education is a primary solution that is recommended by the literature which covers interprofessional collaboration. To develop the ability to communicate effectively, a nurse or any other professional requires training that would help them improve the necessary skills, knowledge, and cultural awareness (Cohen et al., 2016; Papadopoulos, Shea, Taylor, Pezzella, & Foley, 2016; Weiss et al., 2019). Furthermore, they need to be aware of the complexities of interprofessional collaboration and different perspectives within it (Cohen et al., 2016). Similar professional languages can be helpful, as well as mutual respect and support (Weiss et al., 2019). All these abilities can be advanced and prioritized with the help of education and training.

Leadership is also an important and multifaceted factor in both collaboration and teambuilding. Indeed, it can incorporate varied activities from the development of mission and vision to communicating responsibilities or supporting individuals (Shaw, Kearney, Glenns, & McKay, 2016; Weiss et al., 2019). In general, however, the contribution and commitment of all members are required to build an effective team. A strategy that would promote interpersonal collaboration is supposed to be based on empowerment and the sharing of power, responsibilities, and values, as well as partnership (Regan, Laschinger, & Wong, 2016; Shaw et al., 2016; Weiss et al., 2019). The interprofessional team members are meant to be engaged through common goals and visions and provide each other with emotional support (Shaw et al., 2016). Also, the most common team-building activity consists of information exchange, which can be achieved through different forms of meeting (Weiss et al., 2019). In other words, communication, especially effective communication, is one of the strategies that are intended for the improvement of interprofessional collaboration and teambuilding. Thus, education, leadership, teamwork, and effective methods of information exchange can be considered the recommended approaches to promoting interprofessional collaboration and supporting multidisciplinary teams.

Cultural Competence

Nowadays, groups are unlikely to remain homogenous; most organizations are dealing with a level of diversity. Simultaneously, cultural misunderstanding can become an aspect of interpersonal communication barriers (Arnold & Boggs, 2019; Papadopoulos et al., 2016; Weiss et al., 2019). In order to avoid such events, it is necessary to develop policies and attitudes that promote a respectful form of understanding and acceptance of different cultures (Weiss et al., 2019). It is also noteworthy that cultural competence enhances the ability of healthcare professionals to take care of patients who belong to diverse groups (Papadopoulos et al., 2016). Therefore, cultural competence is a peculiar aspect of interpersonal and interprofessional collaboration and communication that needs to be developed as a part of the strategies aimed at advancing the two.

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Applying the Information: A Healthcare Organization Analysis

The described hospital employs some of the strategies mentioned above; it rather explicitly aims to foster collaboration. Thus, it has relatively diverse teams, and because of that, it has been employing diversity awareness training, which should assist in improving cultural competence. Furthermore, while the leadership within the hospital cannot be considered shared, it is still rather democratic and empowering. It can also be suggested that most of the leaders practice authentic leadership, which has been evidenced to have positive effects on teams (Regan et al., 2016). Finally, the hospital uses some of the well-established methods of facilitating interprofessional communication, including regular formal and semi-formal meetings. Therefore, some of the crucial elements of effective interprofessional collaboration strategies are being employed by the organization.

The problems are predominantly concerned with the non-leader staff. Thus, the majority of employees demonstrate a level of communication skill mastery, but they must have acquired it on their own since no such training is offered by the hospital. As a result, mismanagement of communication difficulties, especially conflicts, is not uncommon. Furthermore, the differences in the perspectives, experiences, and often attitudes between the representatives of different professions are apparent and tend to result in conflicts and misunderstandings. There is also a level of disrespect exhibited by some of the non-nursing staff toward nurses and nursing assistants. In general, the hospital could significantly improve the cooperation and cohesiveness of its multidisciplinary teams by introducing communication skill training and focusing on some of the less productive patterns of its interprofessional interactions. This way, the primary elements of effective communication (that is, senders and receivers) would become better equipped for the task.


To summarize, effective communication and collaboration are evidenced to be important for a healthcare organization, and there exist evidence-based methods of ensuring them. The described hospital corresponds to at least some of them, especially from the perspective of cultural awareness training and leadership. However, more communication training would be very helpful and might discourage some of the less effective communication patterns in the hospital. Given that interprofessional communication is crucial for effective team building and collaboration, which are all required for high-quality care, these recommendations are important to consider.


Arnold, E. C., & Boggs, K. U. (2019). Interpersonal relationships: Professional communication skills for nurses (8th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Cohen, E. V., Hagestuen, R., González-Ramos, G., Cohen, H. W., Bassich, C., Book, E.,… Giroux, M. (2016). Interprofessional education increases knowledge, promotes team building, and changes practice in the care of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, 22, 21-27. Web.

Joint Commission. (2015). Patient safety. Web.

Papadopoulos, I., Shea, S., Taylor, G., Pezzella, A., & Foley, L. (2016). Developing tools to promote culturally competent compassion, courage, and intercultural communication in healthcare. Journal of Compassionate Health Care, 3(1), 1-10. Web.

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Regan, S., Laschinger, H., & Wong, C. (2016). The influence of empowerment, authentic leadership, and professional practice environments on nurses’ perceived interprofessional collaboration. Journal of Nursing Management, 24(1), E54-E61. Web.

Shaw, J., Kearney, C., Glenns, B., & McKay, S. (2016). Interprofessional team building in the palliative home care setting: Use of a conceptual framework to inform a pilot evaluation. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 30(2), 262-264. Web.

Weiss, S. A., Tappen, R. M., & Grimley, K. (2019). Essentials of nursing leadership & management (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: FA Davis.

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