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Sharpen Your Communication and Collaboration Skills

Why did you enter the healthcare profession? As a nurse, you probably hear this question often, so it's likely you have a scripted answer you've perfected over time. How likely is your script to contain words like communication and collaboration?

Although they weren't the reason you chose nursing, they're certainly must-have skills for every nurse who wants to be successful in his or her field. Now, communication is self-explanatory, but many people have a muddied definition of collaboration in healthcare.

Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, Third Edition defines collaboration in healthcare as:

"Integrated enactment of knowledge, skills, and values and attitudes that define working together across the professions, with other healthcare workers, and with patients, along with families and communities, as appropriate to improve health outcomes."

Teamwork, putting patients first, strong communication, and a work environment that values its workers across the board are all important aspects of collaboration in healthcare. What makes these aspects so important?

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

It's no secret that the medical field looks much different these days; gone are the days of caring for all patients under the same health umbrella.

Clinical care is getting more complex with each passing minute, requiring clinical staff to learn at a much quicker pace, and many healthcare facilities now offer a wide variety of services that all staff need to be trained in.

Nurses are working harder than they've ever worked, while caring for patients with a wide variety of symptoms and conditions. Combine that with the natural progression of conditions like heart disease and diabetes, and it's easy to understand the strong reliance on teamwork in the current healthcare climate.

Patients First

Who suffers the most when a nurse unit isn't working as a team? Patients.

This is why it's no surprise that research shows teamwork results in fewer medical errors and higher patient safety rates. For instance, a medical center in Wisconsin implemented a nurse-physician collaboration model and as a result saw almost instant improvement in patient care, including:

  • 50 percent fewer falls.
  • .6 day reduction in length of stay.
  • 20 percent more morning discharges.

If nurses want to do what's best for their patients (and they do!) then team collaboration is key.

You'll also find that when your patients are happy, you are too! A higher quality of care has been linked to higher retention and job satisfaction rates. Coincidence? Doubtful.

Communication

Communication is one of the most valuable tools in any profession, but especially so in healthcare.

Patients rely on nurses to communicate well with them, as well as one another, and to provide the best care possible. Doing this helps patients and their loved ones to feel more at ease and trusting in the nurses' abilities, which makes them more likely to take medical advice and leave feeling satisfied with their level of care.

In fact, research has shown time and time again that there's a strong link between a team member's ability to effectively communicate and the patient's willingness to follow through with recommendations, self-manage chronic conditions, and improve upon preventive health habits. 

Work Environment

A healthy work environment values each member of the team equally, while allowing everyone to work at the highest level their licensing allows. This leads to a wide variety of positive outcomes, including but not limited to:

  • Less burnout.
  • Higher levels of job satisfaction.
  • Better patient care.

A healthy work environment in which everyone operates as part of a team helps break down the hierarchy prevalent in healthcare organizations, which gives workers more leverage to do their jobs to the best of their ability. 

Nurses want to help patients and provide the best care possible; communication and collaboration are a big part of accomplishing this outcome. Looking to sharpen these skills? The Mississippi College online RN to BSN program curriculum helps nurses do so.

Learn more about the Mississippi College online RN to BSN program.


Sources:

American Nurses Association: Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, 2015

Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses

The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing: Nurse-Physician Workplace Collaboration

HHS: The Importance of Clear, Effective Communication in Healthcare

BMJ: The Role of Patient Care Teams in Chronic Disease Management

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