Personal and Professional Healthcare Communication Paper

How we communicate effects everything we do. Whether talking to patients and family members, speaking in a team meeting, or talking with our children’s teacher at a conference, communication is how we learn information, teach information and express our concerns.

With this paper I will discuss; the definitions of healthcare communication, the relevancy of effective personal healthcare communication with other healthcare professionals, clients, and patients, the relevancy of effective professional healthcare communication to health outcomes, how the lack of effective communication contributes to poor health outcomes, and the theories and principles of therapeutic communication in health care setting for the healthcare professional.

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The office of disease prevention and health promotion states, “health communication is the art and technique of informing, influencing, and motivating individual, institutional, and public audiences about important health issues. The scope of health communication includes disease prevention, health promotion, health care policy, and the business of health care as well as enhancement of the quality of life and health of individuals within the community. Health communication encompasses the study and use of communication strategies to inform and influence individual and community decisions that enhance health.

It links the domains of communication and health and is increasingly recognized as a necessary element of efforts to improve personal and public health. Health communication can contribute to all aspects of disease prevention and health promotion and is relevant in a number of contexts, including health professional and patient relations, individuals’ exposure to, search for, and use of health information, individuals’ adherence to clinical recommendations and regimens, the construction of public health messages and campaigns, the dissemination of ndividual and population health risk information, images of health in the mass media and the culture at large, the education of consumers about how to gain access to the public health and health care systems, and the development of telephone health applications.

For individuals, effective health communication can help raise awareness of health risks and solutions, provide the motivation and skills needed to reduce these risks, help them find support from other people in similar situations, and affect or reinforce attitudes Health communication also can increase demand for appropriate health services and decrease demand for inappropriate health services. It can make available information to assist in making complex choices, such as selecting health plans, care providers, and treatments.

For the community, health communication can be used to influence the public agenda, advocate for policies and programs, promote positive changes in the socioeconomic and physical environments, improve the delivery of public health and health care services, and encourage social norms that benefit health and quality of life. ” (“Health Communication“, 2006, p. 1) “The practice of health communication has contributed to health promotion and disease prevention in several areas.

One is the improvement of interpersonal and group interactions in clinical situations through the training of health professionals and patients in effective communication skills. Collaborative relationships are enhanced when all parties are capable of good communication. Collaborative nurse physician communication is one of the attributes of Magnet status hospitals. Magnet status hospitals have demonstrated that frequent, effective nurse-physician communication is linked to patient survival in intensive care units.

Dysfunctional nurse-physician communication is linked to medication errors, patient injuries and patient deaths. ”(Arford, 2005, p. 72) “Effective nurse-physician communication has not been a priority when nursing has restructured patient care delivery at the unit level. The driving forces have been efficiency, cost effectiveness, continuity of care, and RN job enhancement. The application of organizational theory to the challenge of creating an organizational context supportive of effective nurse, physician communication requires an analysis using the concepts of specialization, authority, and departmentalization.

The more specialized the work of nursing the more complex the communication lines. Registered nurses often prefer to deliver total care to a group of patients rather than function as a team leader of ancillary staff members; one reason they cite is the inefficient use of time spent communicating with team members. These multiple communication lines are compounded by specialization across physicians with whom nurses must communicate when patient care units group together a heterogeneous patient case mix.

This complexity is further confounded in community hospitals where, in addition to the various medical specialties represented in the daily communication patterns, the number of different physicians practicing the same specialty adds multiple additional communication channels. Academic medical centers commonly have loosely knit interdisciplinary teams comprising interns, residents, case managers, pharmacists, physical therapists, nutritionists, and staff nurses. These teams are not work teams but a grouping of professionals all practicing independently to achieve a common goal.

Communication among these team members is not structured but occurs informally when members encounter each other during their daily work and through documentation in the medical record, numerous telephone calls, and notes. Community hospitals commonly do not have interdisciplinary work teams but use pharmacists, physical therapists, and nutritionists as consultants when ordered by physicians. ”(Arford, 2005, p. 73) “The cultural perspective of organizational behavior is the most contemporary framework for understanding why people behave the way they do at work.

Cultural theorists such as Schein and Zwell describe organizations as having unique, distinctive cultures. The shared values and beliefs of a culture create behavioral norms in the culture. If an individual values autonomy and believes autonomy is earned by following orders, the individual will follow orders. If an individual values autonomy and believes autonomy is earned by advanced education, the individual will acquire advanced education. Professions as well as organizations have unique cultures.

Although medicine and nursing both value the well-being of patients, the two professions differ as to their beliefs regarding the definition of well-being and how it is achieved. Although this cultural diversity is a strength within the overall context of the patient’s plan of care, these divergent beliefs can result in a dismissing or devaluing of each other’s point of view and contribution to the whole. Our professional cultures socialize us into unique communication patterns and these patterns can be foreign to cultural outsiders. Organizational cultures are created and sustained by the organization’s leadership.

Leaders determine what is important, what organizational members should pay attention to, and the meaning of cultural values for daily behavior. Leaders create and sustain a culture by role modeling the behaviors acceptable in the culture, the mechanisms used to deal with critical organizational incidents, and rewarding desired behaviors while sanctioning culturally destructive behaviors. Whenever possible, nurses should frame their communication with physicians in terms of the medical cultural context. This means the message must be brief, well organized, factually based, and action oriented.

The message should include a direct request relative to recommended action. Nurses and physicians are partners in patients’ care. The immediacy of patient care situations does not allow physicians and nurses the time to describe or explain their worldviews. Recognizing the relationship between patient safety and the ability of nurses and physicians to work together, the Council on Graduate Medical Education and the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice issued a joint statement recommending that nurses and physicians be educated together to develop a shared culture.

The current distinct and separate professional cultures serve as barriers to effective communication. Strategies suggested to create an organizational context that fosters goal-directed, open, dynamic, patient-centered communication include: Unit-based advanced practice nurses to manage interdisciplinary teams, Development of nurses to enhance competency that is required to empower autonomy, Policies and procedures to equalize power dynamic, Nurse-to-nurse coalitions to increase the centrality of nonproductive nurse-physician conflict, Daily behaviors that are reflective of equal valuing of all professionals’ contributions to patient care. (Arford, 2005, p. 76)

At its core, the communication and relationship management competency is about how clearly leaders understand the people they work with and how effectively they use that knowledge in building high-performance working relationships. The Healthcare Leadership Alliance identified 13 domains associated with this competency. Several of these domains focus on relationships and communication at the organizational level. Other domains focus on the departmental level. The remainder are centered on the communication and relationship processes themselves.

Of these, one competency domain stands out as pivotal to the effectiveness of the rest: demonstrating integrity and engendering trust. Although the HLA lists these two abilities under the same domain, they are different enough to merit separate treatment. Integrity is often associated with its moral definition-that is, the extent to which a leader adheres to a particular set of values. While high ethical standards are very important in healthcare leadership, ethics is best characterized as necessary but not sufficient for leadership effectiveness.

In the broader sense, leaders are known to display integrity when the people they work with view their decisions and actions as clear and consistent. All else equal, leaders who make a point of seeking input from the people they work with, making decisions in a methodical manner, and explaining their thinking to those affected by their decisions will be viewed as having higher integrity. While integrity generally revolves around an individual’s clarity of purpose and action, engendering trust relates to how a specific individual views his or her working relationship with a specific leader.

As a general rule, trust is not given or gained freely; employees will not trust a leader until that leader has earned their trust, through a combination of displaying integrity and demonstrating that the leader understands and respects employees’ wants and needs. Once earned, trust carries forward only with regular maintenance and can easily be diminished through even a single indiscretion.

Leading effectively in such a climate requires consistency not only in purpose but also in follow-through; the leader must constantly be asking, about each person they work with, “What commitments have I made to this person? and “How well am I doing in meeting those commitments? ” With these basics in mind, a manager or a leader can follow two important steps in developing more effective working relationships. First, recognize the association between effective relationship management and overall effectiveness, and make a firm commitment to actively improving professional relationships. The firmer the commitment, the greater the outcome. Second, challenge yourself to seek out, and be fully vulnerable to, feedback from colleagues about your communication and relationship management skills.

This step is often particularly difficult, because often our natural tendency is to challenge feedback by offering our own perspectives to correct others’ misconceptions. ” (Garman, Fitz, & Fraser, 2006, p. 291) In conclusion, health care communication is a concept of great concern for the patients’ health outcomes. Communication techniques and strategies need to be taught to all health care providers and reinforced throughout the health care fields. The better the communication, the better the care for the patients and satisfaction for all health care providers.


  1. Arford, P. H. (2005, March/April). Nurse-Physician Communication: An Organizational Accountability. Nursing Economics, 23(2), 72-78.
  2. Garman, A. N. , Fitz, K. D. , & Fraser, M. M. (2006). Communication and Relationship Management. Journal of Healthcare Management, 51(5), 291-295.
  3. Health Communication. (2006). Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion,

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Personal and Professional Healthcare Communication Paper. (2018, May 17). Retrieved from