Communication is based on sharing information and fostering of actions. In terms of professional communication, the aim is to make the exchange as effective as possible. Interaction among health care specialists is vital for improving the health and wellbeing of patients. In a similar manner, nurse-patient communication can also be beneficial for treatment. It is, therefore, essential to review the principles of communication and tools that enhance it.
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Essential Principles of Communication in Professional Nursing
Principles of communication are based on the positive outcome that is desired by both participants. One of the most essential propositions is the ability to listen to one’s conversation partner. Whether it is a patient or a colleague, good listening skills significantly benefit the effectiveness of the communication process (Hood, 2018). In addition to that, enhancement of the collaborative nature of interprofessional activities could be achieved if nurses work on the technical, semantical, and influential sides of their message (Hood, 2018). Accuracy and eloquence of speech are vital characteristics for the articulation of an idea or a piece of essential information. It is equally important to produce a message that possesses the same meaning for both communicants. Finally, an impact that words could produce on the recipient needs to be considered.
Nonverbal communication such as body language, gestures, facial expressions and so on could potentially aid or obstruct the process of communication, as its capacity for influencing other people is significant (Hood, 2018). One of the principles that Hood (2018) advises nurses to adhere to is being knowledgeable of cultural differences in nonverbal communication. As people could wrongly translate one’s gestures or body language, a professional should be advised against overly active nonverbal communication.
Advantages of Using a Formulated Checklist for Handoff Communication
Checklists are written or digital forms that encompass a range of yes-or-no questions or more elaborate metrics serving both as quality control and information exchange tool. According to Robins and Dai (2015), such checklists in health care system could substantially aid professionals in their daily conduct. Especially vital such tools are in handoff procedures where nurses and physicians perform a transfer of a patient from one hospital setting to another. Among the reasons for mass implementation of handoff checklists is their strong utilitarian side. Instead of remembering to report multiple health parameters, medications, and other information, the checklist provides an option of holding a pre-assembled list of issues to note and clarify. As professionals have their own duties and schedules, such tools allow saving time on devising reports.
Moreover, checklists provide a solid advantage in the form of the near-errorless transition process. As the lists can be devised to include all necessary patient details, the chance of mistakes may be dramatically reduced (Robins, & Dai, 2015). The benefits of using checklists were uncovered as a result of a study with a considerable sample and valid methodology, which justifies the advocacy of the authors for such a quality-enhancing procedure. As a strategical measure, checklist positively affects the communication between professionals in health care making it more effective and efficient.
In summary, communication can be considered one of the most vital aspects of the everyday professional life of nurses. The key principles of effective information exchange include proper listening, attention to technical, semantical and influential sides of the message, control over the nonverbal language and knowledge of its cultural aspects. To further increase the effectiveness of professional communication in handoff procedure checklists could be used. Due to their simplicity, timesaving and error-eliminating properties they may be considered a solid quality improvement initiative.
Hood, L. J. (2018). Leddy & Pepper’s professional nursing (9th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health | 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.