It doesn't matter if you work in a hospital, in a long-term care facility, or in the community; if you are employed as a nurse, communication is an important part of your job. As a nurse, you will interact daily with all the other parts of the health-care team, making sure the team works together seamlessly.
Communication with Other Nurses
As a nurse, you will probably communicate the most with other nurses. You'll need to communicate on the floor, for example, when you are leaving to take a break or for meals. You'll communicate with other nurses about care you provide their patients if you step into another room to help or answer a call bell. You'll communicate with the oncoming nurse when you leave at the end of a shift. Since nurses speak the same language, nurse-to-nurse communication is usually less challenging than communicating across disciplines. Still, effective nurse-to-nurse communication is essential; when nurses work as a team, patient outcomes are better.
Communication with Providers
You will also have to communicate with other providers, including the primary diagnosing providers. In most cases this involves talking with doctors, nurse practitioners or physician's assistants. Although you will be responsible for a lot of the information you receive from these providers, the information you provide to them is just as vital to patients' well being. For example, you might need to let a provider know about a patient's reaction to a medication, if a patient's vital signs have changed, how a wound looks or whether a patient's post surgical site is draining. It's impossible to overemphasize the importance of this type of communication. As a nurse, you are on the front line of assessing patients. Communicating with providers the results of your assessments is vital to patient safety.
Communication with Mental Health Professionals
As a nurse, you will need to communicate with mental health professionals, as well. For example, if you are taking care of a patient after a suicide attempt, the psychiatrist who is evaluating the patient to see if she is safe to return to the community will depend on information you provide about the patient's mental state. You also might need to talk with a hospital social worker about a client who will be homeless at discharge. If you are working in a community-based setting, you might need to make referrals to a mental health center for a client experiencing a crisis.
Communication with Supervisees
As a registered nurse, you may also be supervising employees, including both licensed and non-licensed personnel. You will need to communicate with these employees about patient assignments and patient conditions as well as about how to complete specific treatments. You might find this communication a little bit trickier, because unlicensed personnel are apt to have different levels of training. You'll have to learn how to communicate with each employee individually, changing your vocabulary to be more or less technical depending on the training and capacity of whom you're speaking to.
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