What are the characteristics of an effective communicator

  1. I am a senior nursing student and I feel my communication skills with patients are horrible. Not intentionally. I feel my school do enough in communication skills. I don't know about other nursing schools but I feel my should improve. I have already made that suggestion at the end of last semester. During our course evaulations. Anyway, I was shy in elementary, junior high and high school but now I am much more outgoing but still I feel like what am I suppose to say to the patient besides ask them questions about their condition and things like that. How should I establish a rapport with them and develop trust at least to some kind of level? I just feel clueless and really scared and worried. I really want to do good and want to do the best that I should be for my level. I start clinicals in one week in the ICU and I am trying to have myself together and organized by the end of this week.
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    About peaceful2100

    Joined: Aug '00; Posts: 896; Likes: 83
    Registered Nurse; from US
    Specialty: 10 year(s) of experience


  3. by   traumaRUs
    Sometimes the most important thing is just being there, holding someone's hand.
  4. by   Dr. Kate
    Boy, do I understand. I still vividly remember telling a friend I had no idea what I was going to do as "they" expected me to talk to a naked person, i.e. talk with your patient while you're giving them a bath.
    I, too, was a shy child and young person. I'm a shy middle aged person.
    What has worked for me is to be polite and respectful. Ask a few benign questions, like how are you feeling today and then listening. Sometimes I don't say much at all. "How's it going?" often opens things up. I always tell people what I'm going to do, and what I'm doing esp. if they can't see me doing it. This doesn't make for great conversation but it helps get me, and the patient, engaged in what's going on.
    One of the things that is really amazing is that I chatter all the time when I am taking care of a comatose patient.
    Remember, it's not about you, it's about the person in the bed. I can do things for my patients I'd never think about doing for myself.
    It does get better with time.
  5. by   Sleepyeyes
    My very shy (extremely competent and caring) friend does all that with a sympathetic look into the patient's eyes, and a reassuring pat on the shoulder.
  6. by   micro
    do not rely on nursing school or knowledge to give you this........

    this need of professional communication you had or you would have never entered such a professional program as nursing......

    it is in the core of who you are......the only thing that knowledge and the bridge of caring that you bring makes the difference.........
    you are #1

    You have to know it in your heart that you were meant to be here caring for people, because it is for sure not glamorous or anything else of prize, except for an inward reward(which only you can feel)...................

    we have one of the most unattractive jobs the world sees or misunderstands........

    I am so glad to have found this thread and so many friends............ajafwiavct..................... .......micro
    Last edit by micro on Sep 2, '02
  7. by   Grace Oz
    Competence & confidence go hand in hand...
    The more competent you become, the more confident you will be. Having confidence allows us to open conversation with our patients in a non invasive, non judgemental way. Even beginning with discussing the weather can lead to further, more intelligent / interseting conversation. Do all you can to make your patients feel that they are absolutely number 1 in your priorities & you will discover that they open up & share things with you that the doctors were NEVER going to extract from them! It helps in their treatment, diagnosis & outcome, in many instances. They often tell the nurse things about themselves, their family, their bosies etc etc, that they would NEVER tell anyone!
    Once we learn to be effective communicators, both the talker AND the listener, we can really make a difference. Both to our patients AND our colleagues. Believe in yourself, have faith & courage. Good luck for your future.
    Cheers from "Down Under",
  8. by   Grace Oz
    Make that "bodies"... NOT "bosies"!! LOL
    Another thing with good communication...learn good typing AND spelling skills!! LOL
  9. by   Agnus
    Shy people are very often excellent communicators. Why? Let me digress first. When I saw the title of this thread my initial response was, "be a good listener." As you admit you are shy, is there any need for me to expand on this?

    There are many shy folks in nursing. In time as you do your clinicals you will begin to move out of this "what do I say" phase with your patients. You will start to discover that they respond to your respectful way ( an natural thing for a shy person) They will respond to your well developed listening skills. They will ask you the questions. Often patients will say, " I know you have some questions that you need to ask me." They are used to this being in the hospital.
    You will quickly be delighted to discover that the patient whom you were most concerned about being able to communicate with was the one whom you communicated with best. You will do fine my shy friend and I am glad to welcome you.
  10. by   live4today
    Hi Tonya
    The more you are exposed to a patient...the better you will become in addressing their needs without shying away from them. You are still in the student nursing phase of things, so don't be so hard on yourself. Be patient with yourself...those communication skills will develop over the course of time during your days as a nurse. Nursing is new to you, so breathe through it, learn a lot by observing the "seasoned nurses" with their patients (you'll learn what things to say and not say...do and not do this way).

    We had a specific course in nursing school called "Therapeutic Communication". We were taught that course via textbook, videos, classroom teaching, and during our very first clinical rotation with geriatric patients. That is where I really had my own communication skills sharpened. We even had to make care plans on our assigned patients in our first clinical rotation specifically targeting "therapeutic communication" with our patients. Boy, this was a HUGE help, believe me! Some schools may or may not provide an excellent therapeutic communication course, but I'm sure glad my college offered one. It has yet to NOT come in handy. :kiss
    Last edit by live4today on Sep 2, '02
  11. by   NRSKarenRN
    My colleagues have given you some excellent advice.
    Found two articles that might be helpful.

    Effective communication - student nurse learning session

    Nurses and Physicians

    Inquire at the school's library re videos they might have available re effective communication.

    Shy persons tend to be great observers and listeners often picking up on subtle signs and symptoms and can do much with a gesture/pat etc.

    After 25 years in nursing, I've been appointed Clinical Manager of my homcare agency's Intake department.
    One of the chief expectations of this year:
    To take a course to improve my communication skills!

    Being verbose, I've been known to speak outloud with my ideas without allowing others to say something first (due to my extensive experiences in healthcare). Learning to say something the way you meant to say it, with the correct tone and gestures is important. Will be learning to bite my tongue till it's the right time to speak is my goal this year.
  12. by   Ted
    Me still try learn kummunikate. . . hard . . . talk. . . tipe, thingy. . .

  13. by   Ted
    Originally posted by traumaRUs
    Sometimes the most important thing is just being there, holding someone's hand.
    Ditto! Well said.

  14. by   micro
    Originally posted by efiebke
    Me still try learn kummunikate. . . hard . . . talk. . . tipe, thingy. . .

    me a too a i think i may well i me a too a can a talk to a to a'