Want to Become a Practical Nurse? 4 Tips for Successful Patient Communication

If you’ve decided to pursue a career as a licensed practical nurse (LPN), it’s a good bet that one of the top reasons you chose to enter the field was to follow your innate desire to help others. This personal nurturing quality, combined with your professional nursing education, are crucial tools for assisting in the medical care of patients. What you may not know is just how important your interpersonal communication style can also be to the wellbeing of those you care for. 

To understand more on the benefits of communicating well with patients, let’s take a look at four effective approaches to keep in mind.

1. Always Be Compassionate

People suffering from illnesses are often confused, scared, and possibly feeling lonely as they face their medical condition. They need to feel sure that their care is in the hands of someone who not only has the skills learned from practical nurse training, but who is also compassionate and caring. You can show that you care about your patient’s needs by taking the time to understand how they feel about their condition. By doing so, you’ll be treating them with the respect and dignity they deserve. In addition, you’ll also be helping them to feel more relaxed, which can mean a lot to a patient going through a stressful and difficult time. 

2. Gain Respect Through Patience

Being compassionate means exercising patience when the patient is showing signs of frustration or other negative feelings over the symptoms they may be experiencing. You must also be prepared for having people in your care who aren’t the best communicators at explaining their symptoms and concerns, going on tangents or losing their train of thought. In all cases, by taking the time to hear them out without interruption, you will gain their appreciation and respect in turn. 

3. Use Active Listening to Earn Trust

Being truly compassionate means listening actively. If you begin to switch off while a patient is speaking to you, they’re likely to pick up on it through visual cues such as a disengaged facial expression or a restless demeanour. Active listening means listening to truly understand. Body language and eye contact are key here—just imagine the difference the patient will feel speaking to someone eyeing the clock and filling out paperwork versus the practical nurse who makes the effort to engage with eye contact, caring nods, and verbal responses at the right moments. By taking the time to truly show you’re engaged with what they have to say and that you take their concerns seriously, you’ll gain the trust of your patients—which means they’ll be more compliant with your nursing efforts.

Non-verbal gestures can help patients feel truly heard

4. Make Sure the Patient Understands the Treatment 

Compliance is important, as a key role of the LPN is to ensure a patient is following medication schedules, self-care, and other strategies for maintaining their wellbeing. After completing nursing school, you will need practice to learn how to strike the right balance of eye contact, body language, and authoritative yet caring tone of voice to make patients understand the importance of following their own treatment plan. By gaining trust through kindness and active listening, you’re more likely to have success with your patient education goals. 

Other Points on Communication Students of Nursing School Should Keep in Mind

Beyond communicating with the patient, the LPN is also responsible for sharing ongoing assessments of the patient’s physical and mental health to their family and to the wider medical team involved in their care. In these circumstances, the same methods of active listening and professionalism are key to gaining trust and mutual respect from all parties concerned. The end result of your efforts to communicate effectively with everyone in the patient’s support team will go a long way to giving the person the level of compassionate care they deserve.

Effective communication is equally important for sharing information with family members and the wider medical team

Are you interested in learning how to train to become a practical nurse for a truly rewarding career in health care? 

Check out Discovery Community College’s specialized Practical Nurse program for more information on this training opportunity! 


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