Effective communication among healthcare professionals such as nurses and non-clinical staff is one factor that guarantees patient safety. Communication fosters teamwork, standardized handoffs, facilitates the involvement of families’ involvement, and the development of a clear escalation procedure. According to Iedema et al. (2019), when healthcare providers communicate effectively, they minimize medical errors’ possibilities. The most powerful thing that I have learned in relation to communication and patient safety is that adequate communication during handoffs establishes a culture of patient safety. Engaging patients and their families during the care process ensures that nurses and physicians have the client’s history of illness, allergies, and other conditions, lowering risks for adverse events. Patient status can change unexpectedly even when care teams are functioning well, and hospitals have implemented standardized communication protocols. Nevertheless, effective communication in care organizations defines procedures for escalating issues to the proper personnel when appropriate.
My perception about customer service skills for nurses is that the latter helps improve patients’ satisfaction in the care services they receive. Nurses have the most frequent and direct interaction with patients since they link their clients and doctors. Therefore, they need to offer excellent customer service to the patients to leave a lasting positive impression. Nurses can portray outstanding customer service by being personable and connecting with the patients. Listening, making eye contact, touching patients when suitable, and acknowledging that they understand what their clients want and are going through is vital for the nurses (Leonard & Needham, 2020). They can also use appropriate language, show that they care about the patients, and involve them to ensure adequate and memorable customer service.
Components of Communication
The essential components of communication are sender and receiver, message, medium, contextual factors, and feedback. Various aspects such as beliefs, personalities, values, and barriers can impact the communication between persons transmitting messages and their recipients. While beliefs, personalities, and values can affect how the receiver and sender perceive a particular message, communication barriers prevent the former and the latter from understanding as intended (Kapur, 2020). The communication medium that nurses can use among them and with the patients may include face-to-face conversation, telephone calls, and emails. Different elements such as the importance of message need for feedback and involved parties’ preferences determine the communication medium.
While messages are the object of communication, various contextual elements, including timing, body language, and environment, play a significant role in how transmitters and recipients share information. For instance, noise in the surroundings and facial expressions can distort the intended meaning of the message. The response to the transmitted message is crucial since it ensures a two-way communication, where the sender and the receiver are actively involved. The feedback can be either positive or negative and helps senders make necessary adjustments to allow recipients to receive correct messages.
What I learned as my greatest strength in communication is the capability to transmit appropriate messages verbally effectively. I clearly pass my ideas and thoughts to other individuals when engaging in verbal communication because I can relate with them. This factor helps me understand what I want to say, the way to do it, how the recipients will interpret the message. Nevertheless, I need to improve the way I interpret other peoples’ messages significantly. Misinterpretation of verbal and verbal communication is my greatest weakness, which causes considerable misunderstandings. The issue sometimes creates problems in my professional and social aspects of life since message senders feel rejected or alienated.
Collaboration and Teamwork
Organizations design and implement teams comprising individuals with diverse skills and competence to enhance productivity. My initial thoughts about being assigned to work in a team were about how I could be an influential member and strategies I could have adopted to adjust and cope with various challenges. Some of the common problems experienced by individuals are lack of trust, low engagement, as well as conflict, and tension. While I understood the purpose and goals of the team, what was expected from me as a team player was not clearly defined. Therefore, I did not know how much and where I was supposed to work to foster others’ productivity and enhance patient safety and outcomes.
Team leadership influences members’ input towards achieving set goals and objectives. Our team leader did not emerge naturally from the members since we had to select a person who we believed had desired leadership capabilities. We considered three fundamental factors when choosing our team leader. The person had to lead by example, listen and communicate well, and who we respected and aspired to be. The person served as a role model and kept us aligned to our organization’s goals, disseminated information without causing confusion, and offered advice and emotional support to the members.
The leadership qualities and skills possessed by our team leaders include good communicator and decision-making capabilities, empathy, confidence, commitment, and passion, as well as honesty and integrity. For instance, our team leader clearly communicated our team’s goals and strategies to accomplish them. Although there were some challenges during the early stages after our group was formed, we communicated and collaborated well to guarantee the effective execution of our responsibilities. Our leader used his skills and competencies to ensure that all members cooperated and shared clear information to alleviate chances for confusion and conflict.
Conflict is one of the factors that hinder the effectiveness of teams in organizations. Therefore, team leaders need to have adequate skills and competencies to help them manage the issue and coach their members on how to resolve conflicts. I can teach a colleague about various approaches they can use to resolve conflicts. Some of the practical strategies I can coach them to use are talking to others, focusing on events and behavior, identifying points of agreement or disagreements, and listening carefully. For instance, when one concentrates on behaviors contributing to conflicts and not personalities, it becomes easier to address the root cause of the fights. Equally, pinpointing the areas of disagreement is an important step towards resolving conflicts.
The most important points quintessential to managing and resolving conflict are fairness and impartiality and assumption avoidance when skirmishes occur among team members. While a team leader or a manager may be agreeing with one or more parties involved in a conflict, it is imperative that they remain objective. They should have equal time and opportunity to present their perspectives on what happened and responds to criticism. The leaders should also avoid stating things that they have heard or think they know as facts because their understanding may be wrong or incomplete. By doing that, the leaders give conflicting individuals a chance to restate their cases and clarify any misconceptions.
I have witnessed bullying in my working environment where a senior nurse verbally criticized and name-called new nurses. She was doing that in the presence of their superiors and colleagues to humiliate them, making them feel incompetent and hurt. I would report such behavior to the management instead of reacting to the perpetrator because the former can handle the situation better by giving a warning for disciplinary action.
My first thoughts about the strategic communication plan and the process that I followed to complete it are that the latter is an essential tool for guaranteeing clear messages to the audiences. The process of developing the plan ensures designing messages and the appropriate medium of sending them depending on the targeted recipients to accomplish the desired goals and objectives. Specifically, strategic communication plans must comprise five primary elements, including audience, goals and objectives, key messages, tactical plan, and evaluation measures. However, the process can be time-consuming, which can delay the dissemination of urgent information. Despite this shortcoming, the process is critical in ensuring that the communication serves the intended purpose in a healthcare setting. These lessons about communication and patient safety have influenced my thoughts positively, and they will be indispensable in shaping my career path in the healthcare sector.
While moving forward with my career, I will learn to be an active listener, pay attention to body language, ask questions, and problem-solver to become a better communicator and team member. These factors are instrumental in helping me become a better team member and communicator, enhancing the working environment and patient safety. Contrary to how many people perceive communication as a process of delivering a message, I have learned that feedback is also a critical element. I should listen carefully to responses of my audience to determine whether they understood my message correctly. In this way, I can emphasize my main message, thus facilitating mutual understanding between me as a physician and the patient. Paying attention to body language significantly helps strengthen engagement among healthcare professionals, thus nurturing an excellent working rapport that not only improves patient safety but also creates a favorable work environment.
Iedema, R., Greenhalgh, T., Russell, J., Alexander, J., Amer-Sharif, K., & Gardner, P. et al. (2019). Spoken communication and patient safety: A new direction for healthcare communication policy, research, education, and practice? BMJ Open Quality, 8(3), 1-4.
Kapur, R. (2020). The elements of communication. ResearchGate. Web.
Leonard, D., & Needham, C. (2020). Strategies hospital managers use to improve customer services. Open Journal of Business and Management, 8(2), 820-854.