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Patient Communication Skills in Nursing Essay

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Updated: Jun 23rd, 2022

Communication skills are essential for effective interaction between nurses and patients. Proper communication and professionalism of nurses improve patients’ health outcomes (Bussard & Lawrence, 2019). Developing effective interaction with patients requires nurses to practice and perfect their verbal and non-verbal communication skills constantly. Non-verbal communication skills include body language, therapeutic touch, and tone of voice (Bussard & Lawrence, 2019). Verbal communication is the ability to listen to patients and reflect accordingly. In the week three role-play activity, we were able to practice therapeutic communication skills in patient interviewing. During week three, the following patient communication techniques were discussed: establishing a rapport with the patient, asking open-ended and closed questions, paraphrasing, summarizing and expressing empathy. Therapeutic communication techniques that I found to be the most successful were touch, probing, and paraphrasing. During the patient interview, these three communication techniques were effective because touch demonstrated non-verbally expressed empathy; probing ensured obtaining extensive and detailed patient history; paraphrasing showed that the nurse has actively listened to the patient.

Appropriate use of tactile communication or touch in patient interviewing helps to show emotional support to patients. According to Bussard & Lawrence (2019), therapeutic touch, spending enough time with the patient, and a calm tone of voice are practical communication skills in nursing practice and education. Certainly, touch should be used in patient interviewing only after obtaining verbal or non-verbal consent from the patient. As I noticed from the previous practice interview, shaking hands with the patient after introducing myself allowed me to establish a rapport with the patient. Furthermore, I could see that using touch encouraged the patient to continue discussing difficult topics. This communication technique also helped to express empathy and understanding of the patient’s difficult situation. Touch is a helpful non-verbal communication skill for establishing trust with patients; thus, poor use of non-verbal techniques results in ineffective communication with patients (Bussard & Lawrence, 2019). Therefore, non-verbal communication skills such as touch should be used to improve health outcomes through effective communication.

Probing questions are used in a medical interview to gain more information about the patient’s history. Probing includes open-ended and closed questions. Using probing questions helps obtain the patient’s history and assess the nurse’s knowledge and preparedness because open-ended questions elucidate if the nurse knows the interview’s approximate structure and is competent enough in the subject (Bussard & Lawrence, 2019). Using open-ended questions helped me get the complete history of my present illness, past medical history, and social history during the practice interview. Furthermore, using open-ended questions allowed me to understand the patient’s perspective on the situation. Open-ended questions were essential to identify the chief complaint and discuss the patient’s social history, previous illnesses, medication use, and allergies. However, it was challenging to ask these questions correctly during the role-play interview; thus, my interview was not properly structured. Nevertheless, during the feedback session, the patient mentioned that my questions indicated that I was confident enough to conduct the interview. Probing questions, when used properly, become helpful verbal communication techniques for obtaining detailed patient history with confidence even at the early stages of a nursing career.

Paraphrasing is an essential communication technique in patient interviewing that shows patients that the healthcare provider listens attentively. Inattentive listening results in poor communication during the interview and causes poor patients’ health outcomes (Bussard & Lawrence, 2019). Listening to the patient is incompatible with such unprofessional behavior as cellphone use during the interview, aloof body posture, and chewing gum (Bussard & Lawrence, 2019). Active listening ensures that paraphrasing and summarizing will be correct. Paraphrasing should be used both during the interview and at the end to digest the information provided by the patient to check for accurate understanding. Furthermore, paraphrasing is helpful to ask clarifying questions during the interview. The Role-play interview showed that the patient became more open to providing more information after I used clarifying questions about the history of the present illness and summarized them before proceeding to the next part of the interview. Paraphrasing and summarizing during the interview help to guide both the patient and nurse. Overall, paraphrasing is an essential verbal communication technique that helps to clarify information and demonstrates that the patient is actively listened to by the nurse.

Overall, an effective patient interview is built through effective communication techniques. Every interview for obtaining patient history requires building a rapport with the patient, asking open-ended questions, expressing empathy, and behaving professionally. The communication skills that I found the most useful during the week three role-play patient interview were probing, touch, and paraphrasing. Probing with open-ended questions helped me obtain a complete patient history with confidence, although some parts of my interview were poorly organized. I found that touch was an effective way to demonstrate empathy to the patient. Finally, paraphrasing helped me keep track of the patient’s information to give a decent summary at the end of the interview. Finally, establishing an effective nurse-patient dialogue using communication skills and maintaining professional behavior is paramount in providing appropriate care and improving health outcomes.


Bussard, M. E., & Lawrence, N. (2019). Role modeling to teach communication and professionalism in prelicensure nursing students. Teaching and Learning in Nursing, 14(3), 219–223. Web.

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