Effective Communication in the Nursing Profession
“I’m a nursing student! Why do I have to write all of these papers?” This question inevitably arises in every class from a frustrated student who often has not yet refined his or her writing skills. Or, how often has a more reserved student lamented about all of the classroom presentations, “What does that have to do with nursing?”
I understand. The bigger challenge then, is to convince my students of the importance…no, the absolute necessity of developing and maintaining effective communication skills, without which it would be like trying to build a bridge without the hammer, lumber, and nails. The reality is that there is simply no substitute for good communication techniques when it comes to relating with fellow humans. Professionals in health care and every other arena will achieve greater heights of success when these skills are mastered.
Effective Communication - The Nerdy Scientist
When attempting to convince a nursing student, one of my favorite strategies is the use of the “Nerdy Scientist” argument. It goes something like this: “Mary, think about a world-renowned laboratory scientist and researcher who develops a vitally important, internationally-needed vaccine. This recognized genius has worked out all of the mathematical equations and has conducted numerous laboratory experiments to correct the kinks until eventually, his or her colleagues agree that the formulation has, indeed, the potential to solve, even eradicate, a major epidemic affecting millions internationally!” After I have gripped my student’s attention, I go on to suggest, “Now, Mary, of what value is all of the most remarkable intellectual brilliance in the world, all of the scholarly achievements, if one cannot put results in writing or effectively communicate this information to others?” The answer, of course, is, “It is of no value.”
To be useable, information must be accessible.
How do we make information accessible? We begin by developing, refining, and maintaining excellent writing and speaking skills. Of course, not everyone is equally gifted in all areas. Some feel more comfortable speaking before strangers in a large, impersonal conference hall, than they feel chatting informally with old friends at a social mixer. There are great writers who cannot speak well, and there are great speakers who cannot write well. Many are satisfied with the extensive research they have conducted, but when asked to do a poster presentation to be shared with colleagues at a national conference, they can be found cowering in a nearby corner. And then there are others among us who love to write and speak, never feel as though the paper or speech is “finished”, and still have the usual kaleidoscope of butterflies every time they go before a group. That’s okay. We are all different. However, since none is exempt from having to speak with and relate to others on a daily basis, perhaps we ought to invest ourselves more fully in an effort to refine our communication.
The secret to improve your communication skills.
Do you have a true interest in your topic? Do you love the new things you learned as you researched the subject that you were asked to teach or present? Do you find it simply the most invigorating thing in the world…this learning of something new and sharing it with others?
Therein lies the secret. Choose an area about which you are curious and turn that curiosity into fascination. Finally, complete the process by taking hold of this newfound knowledge, fully immersing yourself in it, and then transforming it into a passion! If you follow these steps, I guarantee that you will become a more confident and most effective communicator!