How to Talk to Patients: Nursing Communication

Updated: May 23

Social interaction and communication are at the heart of nursing. Not only are they needed for you to function as part of the team, but they are vital when you are caring for your patients. Especially if you like receiving cakes ?


The only reason why some patients love a nurse but hate another is because of effective communication. So here are some tips to keep in mind if you want to score points with your patient:


1. Smile

Whether it is a mother who just received the worst prognosis for her son, or an old man who’s depressed because he lost his independence, everyone in the hospital is facing an obstacle. You are the only one who can bring a hint of happiness to their cruel world. Greeting your patients and relatives with a smile goes a long way, it lights up hope in their heart and gives them a sense of comfort.


2. Be flexible

As a nurse, you will meet all sorts of people on the same day. So, take note of their approach and speak to them in their language.  By adapting to their way of communication, they are more likely to feel comfortable with you.


3. Do not use technical jargon

Have you ever noticed the blank face on your patient when they are listening to their doctors? How many times did a patient or relative come up to you to ask what did the doctor say?

The reason behind this miscommunication is because we often forget that most patients and relatives do not have a medical background. This means that using technical words is absolutely useless to them.

Instead, try to replace those words with more frequently used words. So, don’t tell your patient that Amlodipine is a Calcium Channel Blocker that treats hypertension, but tell them that it lowers their blood pressure.


4. Pay attention

Pay attention to your patient’s facial expressions and body language. Numerous people feel scared to ask questions because they don’t want to sound stupid or are too busy worrying about everything else. That means that the next time you see an anxious or confused patient you should approach them and ask how you can help.


5. Put yourself in their shoes

Each and every patient will have their own concerns. While a 40yr old lady might be worried about her children, a teenager is concerned about missing his graduation party.  So, when patients seem angry, or distant try to look at the problem from their perspective because they are often worried about more things, not only their medical condition.


6. Spend time with your patients

This point is rather challenging, given that your day is probably packed as it is. However, your patients will see this too. They can tell that you are busy, so finding 5 minutes to sit next to them and have a quick chat will be highly appreciated.


7. Explain

The hospital environment tends to bring out the worst in people. Small situations are very likely to become inflated and escalate into heated arguments. However, most people are reasonable, and when you explain why things are being done in a certain way, they often understand.

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