The changing landscape in management of medical centres has called for the initiation and implementation of a number of strategies aimed at improving the levels of organizational performance. In this regard, the communication skills play a critical role in smooth running of medical institutions. The role of the nurse as a key ingredient in the realization therapeutic communication objectives forms the main reason behind the development of nursing curriculum which embraces therapeutic communication skills.
Nursing profession entails both verbal and non-verbal communication with the patient and the medical team. Therefore, nursing and communication calls for what is referred to as therapeutic communication. Therapeutic communication is the development of bonding between a patient and a care provider (Webb, 2011). Therapeutic communication is critical element in the health care delivery. This is because it is used to enable patients understand their health conditions and recommend medical interventions. It is also noted that patients feel relaxed when they are given support from people around them. This assures trust and a lasting relationship, which opens up to the patients for more interactive discussion and disclosures of symptoms. Therapeutic communication in nursing strengthens the nurse-patient relationship and brings out humane character trait of a nurse to a patient. In addition, it reduces cultural and gender barriers. Furthermore, it establishes a connection which can help deal with a medical situation which is a call for empathy.
Skills required for therapeutic communication
Listening skills are quite important in the therapeutic communication. This is because giving full attention to what a patient is saying is a great step forward in understanding his or her medical situation.
A patient acceptance regardless of their medical condition, religion or economic status is important for therapeutic communication. Acceptance makes a patient feel relaxed, in such a way making him or her talk freely.
Using Open-Ended Questions:
It important for a nurse to know how to use open-ended questions to encourage a patient to continue giving information.
Critical thinking skills
Keating (2010) states that critical thinking is an intellectual process, which involved discipline through the application of one’s knowledge and skills basing ones actions on beliefs and reason. The author (2010) states that critical thinking in nursing is important for clinical decision-making. It is the ability, which helps to organize ones thoughts and actions logically and systematically, enabling to perform the nursing services safely and on a high quality level. Critical thinking should be encouraged and developed for a practitioner to adhere intellectual standards. In addition, critical thinking is important for proficiency in reasoning, since it offers an opportunity for nursing students to gain and maintain intellectual traits of the mind, and habits for sound clinical decision-making. Nursing practitioners, who are critical-thinkers, cherish and adhere to intellectual standards (Stanley, & Dougherty 2010, p.379). Critical thinking enhances deep and broad thinking which is very important for therapeutic communication. Nurses thinking are adequate for their intended purpose and can be analyzed in light of well established nursing standards.
The application critical thinking skills in developing a nursing care plan require the consideration of human factors that can influence the plan. It is therefore prudent for a student nurse “to interact with the patients as well as other health care providers in the process of delivering appropriate and individualized nursing care” (Oja 2011, p.148). The interaction creates a culture, attitude, and thought processes which go a long way in creating harmonious relationship between nurses and patients. “Nurses should apply critical thinking skills in all practice setting such as acute care, ambulatory care, extended care, and in the home and community” (Oja 2011, p.148). Regardless of the environment, individual patient’s circumstance should be viewed as unique and dynamic. The nursing professional should interpret the information presented in order to be able to focus on the relevant factors for a particular situation (Keating 2010). Critical decision about what to do in a given situation and how to do it is put in a strategic plan of action. Nursing education should be directed toward a focus on skills,reinforcing critical thinking, problem solving, and careful examining of critical information (Keating 2010, p. 83).Given that modern technology is very dynamic; the skills needed to navigate this ever changing flow of information should be fluid and versatile.
Information and communication technology is an integrated and essential part of health-care practice. Technology is considered key to addressing challenges in health-care system (Smith & Bonnel 2010, p.15). Today, the nurses work in a variety of e-health programs, such as tele-triage, where they access online libraries and databases of clinical practice guidelines in their workplaces and interact with their peers in discussion groups over the Internet. Simulation was originally developed to address the training and risk-management requirements of complex industries such as aviation, nuclear power production. However, modern challenges of nursing need the application of simulation technology kin analysis of some nursing information. Realizing simulation’s need and applicability to healthcare, health professions’ curriculum has, in piecemeal method, introduced elements of simulation for procedural skill development over the last decades. Smith & Bonnel (2010) defines a simulator “is a device that mimics a real patient or a human body, and is capable of interacting with the learner” (p.48).
Simulation technology in training nursing professionals enables them to practice necessary skills in an environment, which gives room for few errors and professional growth without risking patient’s safety (Smith & Bonnel 2010, p.47). The proper application of simulation technology in nursing education program allows the learners to sharpen their clinical skills. It is not that there is no danger in harming the patient during the learning process while assimilation technology. Although proponents of simulation technology emphasize that the application of simulation method in healthcare professions education program encourages patient’s safety. However, the opponents argue that no documented research links simulation to increased patient safety. According to Smith & Bonnel (2010) “there is indication that simulation training enhances learners’ satisfaction and safety in other high-risk fields, such as the field of aviation” (p.143). From nursing pedagogical perspective, the amount of knowledge needed today to practice safe patient care calls for the implementation of an education system that goes beyond traditional didactic teaching.
Traditional nursing education curriculum depends greatly on linguistic intelligence and sheer memorization. However, a well-designed simulation curriculum draws upon multiple intelligences and is learner-centered. Mastrian, (2011) highlights that “sound information in the theoretical underpinnings of nursing is essential for nurses to advance their clinical expertise” (p.13). In nursing education and practice, it is the responsibility of the nurse educator to develop learning experiences that enjoins the theoretical underpinnings of nursing to clinical experience. A nursing education system, which allows learners to make the connection between the didactic information and clinical experience is important in improving competency among the nurses and nursing students. Emerging technologies in learning are the fundamental to the current teaching paradigm shift. Today's students across the globe pursue a nontraditional approach due to the impact of globalization. “Indeed, learners come from diverse cultural backgrounds and bring with them into the online environment a plethora of rich and varied life experiences” (Mastrian 2011, p.61). This generation of learners needs a curriculum, which supports their working lifestyle and provides another venue for accessing higher learning education (Mastrian 2011, p.62). In the development of a new nursing curriculum to bridge the gap between academic preparation and nursing practice, nursing educators should understand the dynamic trend of health care environment to addressing the learning needs of students.
Language difference may create communication barrier between a patient and a nurse. In such situation it is critical that the institution employs nurses who can speak several languages.
Cultural difference and variation in societal norms and values can lead to communication barrier, hence making it difficult to understand a patient situation.
Education plays an essential role in effective communication. Therefore, the lack of education can lead to communication barrier.
Use of medical jargon
Exceeding usage of medical jargon can lead to misinterpretation of the information by the patient, therefore this might create the communication barrier.
Strategies to overcome communication barriers
Employment of nurses who can speak different languages and come from different social and cultural background will solve the communication barrier as a result of cultural difference.
Simplification of medical jargons
Nurses should be encouraged to communicate in a simple language which is clear to all patients.
The significance of effective therapeutic communication as a basic element of nursing is an integral part of quality health care. For patients who have a need in complex medical care, an opportunity for interaction occurs during communication with staff. The nurses should have a sense of empathy and respect for patients. In addition, the application of active listening skills is critical and inevitable in nursing profession. Moreover, critical thinking is also necessary for critical examination and analysis of a patient situation.