9 Tips for Nurses to Improve the Nurse-Patient Communication

Nurses emerged as frontline soldiers in our battle with COVID as they dedicated themselves to boosting patient outcomes during a widespread pandemic. But RNs must improve their effective communication capabilities to continue improving health-related services. Why should we focus on enhancing the nurse-patient relationship? Well, nurses spend most of their time with patients, more than even physicians.

nurse patient communication

A nurse is responsible for observing patients, educating them, and speaking with them about their desires. Nurses can’t perform their functions properly unless they’ve honed their communication capabilities. It seems crucial to learn about improving the nurse-patient relationship during an ongoing health crisis.

Communicating effectively with your patients

In 2019, CRICO published a study regarding malpractice lawsuits in the healthcare industry. They found that ineffective communication caused 30% of these lawsuits between 2009 and 2013. When nurses are not communicating effectively with their patients, they undermine patient outcomes. Moreover, it leads to the wastage of resources and higher healthcare expenditures. Also, patient satisfaction suffers a drastic decline. We suggest nurses should improve their relationships with patients by communicating properly. Experts have termed effective communication the foundation of “good nursing care.” How do you communicate productively? Here are some helpful tactics for nurses to bolster communication:

1. Enhance your learning

Over 50% of RNs today hold bachelor’s degrees at least. But they need advanced education to enhance patient outcomes. We believe that the degree of Masters of Nursing Nurse Practitioner allows nurses to become more patient-oriented. This degree helps them improve their communication capabilities, thereby creating strong bonds with patients.

You can enhance your practice by attaining this degree digitally. That’s how modern-day nurses become better at communicating with patients.

2. A welcoming presence

Create a welcoming presence to attain the patient’s trust when you first meet each other. A nurse should announce their presence, smile during this meeting, and maintain eye contact to make the patient feel valued. Remember to introduce yourself and address the patient by name to create a sense of comfort.

You can establish an interpersonal connection with a friendly handshake. It’s smarter to commence the conversation with a patient with some low-key non-medical questions.

3. Practice active listening

Effective communication relies upon “active listening,” in which you listen attentively to the patient. It involves being mindful of what the patient tells you without interrupting or being judgmental. Try paraphrasing what they’ve just said to ascertain you two understand each other. Also, don’t forget to maintain eye contact while talking. Observe non-verbal clues, too, such as any gesture made by the patient. This practice establishes trust between the patient and the provider that may last longer.

4. Use positive wordings

You can’t underestimate the influence of positive word-phrasing during a conversation. Experts have emphasized using phrases like “for you” and “with you” more often when speaking with the patient. That’s how you can make the patient feel appreciated and comfortable in any conversation.

Since they’re not expecting gratitude, even saying “thank you for meeting me today” can make this experience heartwarming. So, don’t hesitate to show appreciation before patients.

5. Make personal connections

Creating an effective interpersonal relationship allows RNs to form strong bonds with their patients. How do nurses make meaningful connections with people? Well, we suggest simple methods such as sitting beside the patient can strengthen your relationship with them. Studies have shown that RNs can improve patient satisfaction scores by sitting beside patients while speaking with them. It would also help make patients feel comfortable discussing their medical history.

6. Ask open-ended questions

How do you encourage patients to talk? You can ask open-ended questions to motivate them to communicate their problems with you. These questions allow you to establish rapport with them and motivate patients to “open up” about their problems. Asking “tell me what happened” or “help me understand your condition” can encourage patients to describe their illnesses eloquently. After you’ve asked some open-ended questions, you can switch to to-the-point close-ended questions.

7. Your body language

Nonverbal communication incredibly matters as you can convey emotions via gestures too. Nurses can understand the patient’s current feelings by understanding their body language. You should increase your awareness of what messages you’re sending to people and receiving from them. We’ve already explained how eye contact and friendly talk constitute some of the most important gestures in the nursing practice. And that’s how you can establish powerful connections with your patients.

8. Educate your patient

Nurses are responsible for educating their patients by meeting them at their health literacy levels. A nurse must explain complex medical information in simple language while asking relevant questions to ensure that the patient understands the concept. Likewise, utilize printed educational materials to enhance your patient’s education. Moreover, educate the patient’s family members about the patient’s condition. Eventually, you’ll create a meaningful connection with them along with the patient.

9. Show some empathy

Unarguably, you must show some empathy while dealing with patients. It ensures that nurses/doctors listen to a patient from their perspective. But empathy also saves time and allows you to receive important clues regarding your patient. These clues help you better understand the patient’s illness. An appointment with missed clues lasts 20+ minutes, but an appointment without missed clues lasts less than 18 minutes. So, empathy makes you less vulnerable to wasting your time with patients.


Enhancing the nurse-patient relationship improves patient outcomes. That’s why RNs should effectively communicate with patients. How do you improve your communication capabilities? Well, we believe RNs can demonstrate a welcoming presence, utilize positive wordings, show some empathy, and ask open-minded questions to streamline communication. Moreover, it seems suitable to educate your patients and make personal connections with them. Observe how you’re communicating nonverbally via your body language. Effective communication involves practicing active listening as well. So, listen to the patient properly and don’t be rushed. That’s how you can communicate with any patient correctly.

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