Why Communication is a Fundamental Skill for Nurses

In hospitals and healthcare facilities, nurses can be found everywhere—at patient screenings, in nursing stations, and most importantly, with the patient in the exam room or at the bedside. Nurses are on the front lines of patient care, making nurse-patient communication essential to a patient’s entire healthcare experience.

Nurses take on a multitude of responsibilities where they have to practice their medical knowledge and clinical expertise. Yet, their greatest challenge and perhaps most vital task is communication. From patient intake to patient discharge and beyond, nurses must communicate well to provide comprehensive care.


Studies found that nurses who display courtesy, kindness, and security to their patients — through both their actions and words — are generally more successful in establishing a good rapport. This means nurses must go beyond simply demonstrating these qualities.

To do so, they need to approach every patient-nurse interaction with the intent to understand the patient’s concerns and experiences as well as demonstrate that they are open to truly hearing the patient’s input. Active listening lets a nurse assess a situation to formulate a response for care.

Nurses must be able to analyze how patients communicate during stressful situations and understand non-verbal cues to ensure their safety. For the most part, the patient must feel comfortable when a nurse talks to them, and this requires a peaceful and private environment as well as confidentiality. 

Generally, people differ in their needs for communication. For patients who are under stress and emotional fatigue, they’re most likely to feel shock, anger, disbelief, aggression, and denial. Some want to be listened to, while others want explanations for everything they are going through. Nurses must communicate accordingly and must avoid silence and indifference.

When conversations are underway, the nurse must not bombard the patient with technical terms. Nurses should bring the conversation to the language level of the listener so that he or she may understand the patient’s conditions and needs.

Time also is a required element of good communication between a nurse and patient. It takes time for patients to express confidence and trust which are necessary for quality care. Honesty and transparency are vitally important to effective nurse-patient communication.  Learning to communicate at the level of the listener, whether a patient, caregiver, or another nurse or healthcare provider, is a crucial concept.


Studies show that effective communication between nurses and patients have many benefits.

1.  Immediate understanding of a patient’s condition and needs. Nurses spend more time with patients than most other healthcare staff. The amount of personal communication they have with patients is important for understanding their physical and emotional well-being which will allow them to provide a deeper level of care individually.

2. Tracking changes in patient care. Understanding patient needs and concerns allows nurses to target their communication and clinical strategies toward their specific preferences. Doing so also means they can track patient progress regularly and measure deviations in real-time. When a nurse is a good listener and frequently checks in on her patients, he or she is able to reduce the patients’ physical and emotional distress.

3. Identifying specialized needs. A patient may have needs outside their medical care. For instance, a patient may have a specialized diet or particular religious beliefs. Nurses can ensure that this information is provided to the right people and healthcare staff so that quality of care isn’t compromised, and the patient’s requirements are met.

4. Advocating for patients. According to the American Nurses Association’s (ANA’s) “Code of Ethics for Nurses,” patient advocacy includes a therapeutic relationship and communication between nurse and patient. As an advocate, a nurse acts as an informer to the patient’s decision-making and bridges gaps between the patient, other medical care staff and the healthcare system.

5. Improving morale in nursing staff. Communication in nursing not only benefits the patients, but the nurses as well. Nurses who communicate well with their coworkers tend to witness an improvement in morale as well as job satisfaction.


Nurses act as the hub of communication in healthcare organizations. They are the ones relaying and interpreting information between doctors, other nurses, family members, and patients. Effective communication goes far beyond just talking to patients and other nurses, and it requires good interpersonal skills, understanding of patient needs, training and continuing education of nurses. The ability to establish effective communication in nursing is critical to providing the best patient care possible.

For more nursing tips and resources that can help you establish good communication, keep on visiting this blog. You can also check out Nurse X’s and O’s podcast where you can learn useful insights to become a successful nurse.


A Guide to Repositioning the Nursing Profession for a Post COVID Era

As part of her contributions towards strengthening the nursing workforce, Tonika Bruce, a registered nurse, and best-selling author, gives a detailed overview of how to reposition the nursing profession for a post-COVID era. 

The strength of nurses lies in their vital role in patient care, advances in nursing technologies, and feasibility of resources but there are a few implications for them.