Communication between the nurse, the patient and other health professionals. Essay Example
Effective communication remains one of the cornerstones of nursing practice. Nurses interact not only with the patients, but also with other healthcare professionals in a bid to find the best way to provide quality care to their clients. A good nurse-client relationship remains the center of an effective or quality health care, implying that communication between the two parties establishes the base of the relationship. According to Sheldon (2009), the interactions emphasize on the priorities, expectations, feelings, and challenges of the patients, with the intention of improving spiritual, psychological, and physical health of the client. In contrast to usual social interactions, patients do not have the power or the opportunity to choose the nurse for the relationship. This necessitates the nurse to interact, inform, and exchange information with other healthcare professionals, truly placing the best interest of the patient at the core of the discussions. This brings in self-awareness as one of the major skills that nurses require to be able to communicate effectively with both patients and other health practitioners (Antai-Otong, 2007). Self-awareness among nurses enhances their listening skills, improves their ability to choose the right style of communication and the right kind and amount of information to share and obtain from others as well as moderate their feelings during communication. The current essay explores these impacts of self-awareness on nurses’ communication with other clinical care practitioners as well as with patients.
Self-awareness refers to the process by which individuals identify or get recognition of their thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and attitudes. It allows individuals to know their weaknesses and strengths, enabling them to build on their strengths and to resolve their weaknesses in order to become self-confident of what they do. Knowing about ourselves remains the first step required for individuals to understand others. It is not possible for individuals to understand how other people think or feel when faced with a particular situation unless they understand how they feel themselves under similar situation. Thus, self-awareness can be regarded as the most important skill that allows people to relate their experience to those of others, allowing them to develop appropriate and important attribute of empathy (Webb, 2011). In the practice of nursing, self-awareness remains an essential element for effective communication to ensue between nurses, their clients, and other professionals.
According to Thomas and Cohn (2006), Self-awareness improves listening skills of nurses when faced with different health care situations. In any interpersonal interaction, including nurse-patient relationship, effective listening remains one of the most important skills for effective communication. Listening skills does not imply paying attention to only what others are saying, but also to the non-verbal cues expressed by others during communication. Unlike social interactions, communication in a nurse-client relationship relies heavily on both verbal and non-verbal communication, making it a prerequisite for nurses to be in a position to understand verbal and nonverbal cues expressed by the patients, such as voice tone and facial expression, among others (Nadzam, 2009). Thus, nurses require self-awareness in order to be able to communicate effectively with the patients. It allows them to think how they would behave if they were in patients’ positions. This enables them to listen and interpret effectively meanings inherent in the verbal and nonverbal cues present in patients’ communication. For example, a nurse who understands how he or she will talk when in great pain will stand in a better position to listen and interpret voice and facial expression of a patient experiencing high levels of pain.
In improving listening skills, self-awareness enhances the ability of nurses to choose the appropriate communication styles depending on the situation or condition of their clients or other health care practitioners (Meyer, Ritholz, Burns, & Truog, 2006). The patients may be in the verge of death, experiencing greater pain, or having other mild complications. Such differences inevitably make the patients feel or think differently, implying underlying differences in the quality of care required to make them feel better. On the other hand, health care professionals may react differently when faced with different situations. In such cases, a professional’s attitudes or feelings towards the situation differs significantly to that of others. Therefore, nurses should be aware of how they should feel or think if they were experiencing similar health problems to those of the patients or similar situations to those of other practitioners. Such self-awareness enables them to identify the right way to share and obtain information effectively.
It enables them to identify the right type and amount of information to exchange with and obtain from the patients and other health care practitioners. Ma, Warren, Phillips, and Stanek (2006) observe that effective communication in nursing care occurs when nurses are able to access the right kind of information, sufficient to ensure quality clinical care of their patients. In most cases, the nurses have to obtain this information from patients and other practitioners working together in a health care team. Patients share information with nurses about their condition, including symptoms, causes, and other pertinent information, by answering questions posed to them by the nurses. This implies that in the relationship, nurses are expected to ask the right kind of questions in order to be able to obtain the right information from the patients efficiently and effectively (Cronenwett et al., 2007). Self-awareness presents the most essential skill required to be able to achieve this. It enables nurses to understand the kind of information they expect to obtain from the patient, helping them to engage in constructive dialogue or communication with the patients. It also enables them to establish constructive discussions with other health care workers. Being the primary care givers, nurses are expected to describe the health condition of their patients in a way understandable to other workers in the health care team. In order to stand in a position to share and obtain the right kind of information sufficient to care for the patients, they need to be able to understand experiences, feelings, and attitudes of the patients. This can occur effectively if the nurses first understand how their attitudes or feelings would have been if they were experiencing similar health problems (Yip, 2006). To a larger extent, this ability to understand and explain patients’ expectations and feelings to other professionals depends on the level of self-awareness among the nurses. In absence of the self-concept, nurses would not be able to create a positive communication with other practitioners because they may find it impossible to exchange and obtain the required information from the practitioners.
Self-awareness can serve to moderate nurse’s communication with clients as well as with other health care workers. It helps them understand their strengths and weaknesses when faced with different situations. This enables them to stand in a better position to understand how to control their weaknesses while communicating with other workers and patients. To some extent, disagreements or conflicts due to personal differences are bound to arise during communication. Thus, nurses with high levels of self-awareness are in a position to understand how to deal with such disagreements in a way that does not intimidate or anger other parties in the communication (G. Lumsden, D. Lumsden, & Wiethoff, 2009).
In conclusion, self-awareness among nurses has various impacts on their communication with other clinical care practitioners as well as with patients. It improves listening skills of nurses when faced with different health care situations. As a result, it enhances their ability to choose the appropriate communication styles depending on the situation or condition of their clients or other health care practitioners. It also enables them to identify the right type and amount of information to exchange with and obtain from the patients and other health care practitioners.
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