According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Patient Safety, as many as 440,000 people die each year from preventable medical errors, representing the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Increases in nursing communication can lessen medical errors and make a difference in positive patient outcomes. Multiple communication theories are used in nursing to help explain and guide interactions made between nurses and patients, as well as nurses and other health care professionals.
This theory focuses on the nurse-client relationship and the therapeutic process that takes place. Orientation Phase: The nurse engages the patient in treatment, and the patient is able to ask questions and receive explanations and information. Exploitation Phase: The patient takes advantage of all services offered, exploiting the nurse-patient relationship to address treatment goals. Resolution Phase: As a result of effective communication, the patient’s needs are met, and he or she moves toward full independence. The dyadic interpersonal communication model describes the dynamic interactive process that takes place between two people.
As the sender or encoder provides a message, the recipient, or decoder, must process the information. A number of other theories in communication and specifically in nursing communication have been used in health care. In order to help patients and work alongside peers, nurses must consider the skills and tools that are involved in effective communication. Nurses who are aware of the common barriers to effective communication will be able to anticipate and properly react to any roadblocks. An “ongoing process … characterized by facial expressions, gestures, posture and physical barriers such as distance from the interlocutor,” nonverbal communication must agree with verbal communication. An important part of communication, listening is a “responsible nursing practice and requires concentration of attention and mobilization of all the senses for the perception of verbal and nonverbal messages emitted by the patient.” By listening, nurses can be attentive to the needs of the patient and integrate care according to the patient’s evolving needs.
Marked by kindness, compassion and care, nurses can develop good personal relationships with the ability to “ask questions with kindness and provide information that does not scare, that demonstrates interest, creates feelings of acceptance, trust and a harmonious relationship, especially in modern multicultural society.” This relationship is connected to not only the transmission of information, but also the mental and emotional dynamics found in communication. It is no secret that communication skills for nurses are essential and difficult to master — and they require proper attention.
Through education and employment-sponsored training, nurses can advance communication skills that are crucial to improving as effective health care professionals.
Listening to a patient is important to understanding a patient, but patients also communicate nonverbally. Nonverbal communication or body language includes physical appearance, physical distance between caregiver and patient, tone of voice, and facial expressions.
Gestures, nods, smiles, grimaces and frowns are facial expressions that you must interpret when communicating with a patient.
The nurse must explore further if the patient's nonverbal message does not match his verbal message.
Smiling, leaning forward, eye-gazing and touching are elements of body language that the nurse can use to improve her relationship with the patient.


As a Medical Assistant, you will most likely be assigned to patients in pain, discomfort and in some cases terminal conditions that require a high level of compassion, empathy and tactfulness at all times.  In fact, you may actually have several patients that you need to attend to at the same time and each will have varying needs and require different levels of and types of compassion. As a Medical Assistant, you will be responsible for communicating patient status to your superiors (doctors and nurses) in charts (written or electronic format) and verbally.  You may also be required to communicate with patients from all walks of life and provide guidance and care as directed by a physician, so excellent communication skills are a must!
Taking instructions from nurses and doctors for one or more patients at a time, retaining and executing those directions properly is another vital skill set and requires you to be able to listen carefully and follow instructions to the letter.  Your patients are counting on you to do so!  In addition, you will have to listen carefully to patients and be able to extract vital information that you can relay to the care team to help them make informed medical decisions about the patient’s treatment plan. This list is by no means a complete or comprehensive list of the qualities a medical assistant should have, but it’s a good start.  Feel free to add your own qualities you think make a good medical assistant in the comments below.
For more information about a career in the medical assisting field, or to speak with an admissions representative and apply for career training, contact Centura College today by visiting our Medical Assisting Career Training Webpage.  You can also learn more about Centura College at our Consumer Information Disclosure page, Your right to know. I agree it takes the right kind of personality as well as the right mental attitude to be a good medical assistant. You need to complete the right kind of training program, get certified if you want a chance at the best job opportunities and then pursue job opportunities the smart way.
The ability to communicate and connect with patients and health care professionals can help build relationships, prevent mistakes and provide a higher level of care. In a 2014 study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, medical error rates in nine children’s hospitals decreased by 23 percent after a handoff program was instituted to enhance and standardize communication. Communication that occurs in this context involves complex factors such as environment, in addition to attitudes, practices and beliefs in the dominant culture. This stage helps the patient develop trust and is where first impressions about the nurse and health care system begin to evolve. These interactions provide the basis for understanding, trust and acceptance as the patient becomes an active participant in treatment. Based on a sender and recipient — the encoder and decoder — and outside influences such as perception, attitude, content and the emotional and physical elements, the model points to the many factors that can alter the message or the message’s delivery. The dyadic interpersonal communication model highlights the importance of clarity and awareness for the many factors that can affect verbal and nonverbal communication. For instance, Jean Ann Seago notes that “Habermas’ critical theory has been used to identify successful nurse-physician collaborative strategies, including a willingness to move beyond basic information exchange and to challenge distortions and assumptions in the relationships.” Also, Seago mentions theories deriving from Foucault, feminism and the aviation industry to understand and enhance communication. From being aware of potential barriers blocking effective communication to utilizing integral communication skills, nurses can take steps toward providing better care.
In stressful moments, Kourkouta and Papathanasiou note, changes in these two communication types can be difficult to assess. Bramhall points out that asking open questions, clarification and screening questions can help keep the focus on the patient. At Southeastern University, current nursing professionals can enhance their communication skills with an online RN to BSN degree. As nurses cultivate these skills to develop professional relationships with fellow health care professionals, connect to patients and become more well-rounded and effective individuals, education and on-the-job training can maximize the impact improved communication skills will have in the workplace.
Oftentimes a health care provider will learn more from observing a patient's nonverbal cues than from listening to a patient's verbal communication. Understanding nonverbal messages is a valuable care-giving skill because body language is usually a more reliable indicator of a patient's condition than his verbal responses.


The ability to interpret facial expressions leads to a better understanding of your patient's condition.
Vocal cues refer to pauses, loudness and tone of speaking voice, which can indicate a range or emotions from anger to nervousness.
Be aware that your body language communicates messages to your patient and ensure that you are respectful and considerate in speech and movement.
Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of information contained within; however, no warranty of accuracy is made.
But once you have decided it is the career for you there are a lot of things you need to think about to find the job you want and ultimately the success you want. Of deaths due to medical errors, The Joint Commission estimates that 80 percent involve miscommunication. According to Ros Wright, the body of literature in nursing communication points to “increased recovery rates, a sense of safety and protection, improved levels of patient satisfaction and greater adherence to treatment options” as well-documented results of effective communication. In addition to these types of theories, several others could be named, such as those in experiential communication. For information giving, providing small amounts of information at a time, checking what information the person knows already and pausing before continuing can help. The program expands on knowledge and skills nurses need to advance into leadership positions. Understanding nonverbal communication is especially important for nurses providing care to patients with limited language skills.
Utilize nonverbal communication skills by observing the patient's manner of dress, manner of speech and reactions to being touched during examination. The nurse interprets behavior such as fidgeting, clenching fists, avoidance of eye contact or physical contact and responds to the nonverbal message. If an individual's body language doesn't match his spoken message, the recipient of the message will be confused. The Joint Commission’s analysis of 2012, 2013 and first-quarter 2014 data revealed that in all three time frames, communication was one of the top three leading causes of sentinel events, a patient safety event unrelated to the patient’s illness or condition that results in death, permanent harm or another qualifying negative outcome.
And for listening, summarizing, paraphrasing, empathizing and making educated guesses can demonstrate that the nurse is listening and able to communicate effectively to patients and other health care professionals. Be respectful and ensure that the patient is comfortable with any procedures that you will perform. Be especially careful when conducting examinations of individuals with schizophrenia or other psychiatric illnesses. These individuals may become anxious and violent as the nurse invades their comfort zone while examining them. Centura College exercises no control over, and assumes no responsibility for, information that resides on servers outside the centuracollege.edu domain.




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