How can new nurses practice and fine-tune their communication skills?

Using safe online environments to hone interpersonal communication can help new grad nurses connect with patients.

By Elsevier Connect Contributors - February 10, 2023  3 mins

Nurses have dozens of daily patient interactions where they must skillfully give and receive information to foster a sense of trust and safety.

Even though schools focus on interpersonal skills, like communication, new nurses often lack experience communicating with a spectrum of patients. This means that, despite the importance of these patient interactions, new grads are often forced to rely on a “learn by doing” approach. Or they work through virtual learning programs that show them how to talk to patients using a predefined set of conversation phrases.

Overly structured education tools can constrict the impactful learning that comes from rehearsing realistic conversation and leaves new nurses less prepared to communicate with diverse patients effectively and build rapport.

Unfortunately, poor communication has been shown to be one of the main drivers of preventable medical errors, contributing to more than 30% of medical malpractice claims involving patient harm[1].

Working with a multitude of patient populations

The transition from classroom to nursing floor can be intimidating, and new grad nurses will be immediately called upon to work with many different patients. Nurses will need to cultivate trusting relationships that promote optimal patient care across a wide range of socio-demographic backgrounds, personal stories, and health histories.

In each instance, the key to establishing a trusting relationship is the integration and mastery of therapeutic communication skills[2].

Working with unscripted, life-like patient interactions

With Elsevier’s Shadow Health, your new graduate nurses can prepare with patented, state-of-the-art technology that enables natural, free-flowing conversations with virtual patients on a wide range of health topics. Rather than limiting them to prompted dialogue, your nurses will find this approach far more engaging. They can develop the critical therapeutic communication skills they need to properly treat diverse patients with complex conditions, and their knowledge and confidence will positively impact patients.

Better questions lead to better disclosures and more rewarding patient encounters. The patients in Shadow Health’s simulation training have various personal and medical histories, and they can answer hundreds of thousands of questions, so the responses are as varied as the patients. This gives your nurses the opportunity to safely explore empathetic and educational patient conversations, with enough leeway to go astray and valuable feedback on how they can further develop their skills.

With Shadow Health, nurses can engage in a holistic learning process to uncover the most effective communications and apply clinical reasoning to dig deeper, discern the next step, and deliver better patient care.

Learn more about Shadow Health

[1] “Malpractice Risks in Communication Failures,” CRICO Strategies, a division of Harvard Medical Institutions (2015).

[2] “Graduate nurses’ experiences of developing trust in the nurse–patient relationship”, Contemporary Nurse, Belcher & Jones (2009)


Elsevier Connect Contributors
Written by

Elsevier Connect Contributors

Written by

Elsevier Connect Contributors

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