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How to Effectively Communicate with Patient Families

  • Category: Careers
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  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
How to Effectively Communicate with Patient Families

A day in the life of a nurse can be stressful to say the least, from balancing patient care needs and medications to constantly assessing for complications. When you add dealing with patient family members, that stress can escalate. You may have to communicate with a particularly difficult family member or simply addressing a loved one’s question or concern, but these are some good tools to help you communicate effectively regardless of the situation.


Many people think of communication as talking, but listening is just as (if not more) important. To effectively listen it requires you to be present and fully take in what a patient’s loved one is telling you. Pay attention not only to a family member’s words, but to their facial expressions and body language. Once you’ve heard them out respond by summarizing what they’ve told you. This will reassure them that you’ve really heard their concern. Asking a follow-up question is also a good way to show that you’ve heard them and care enough to get more information.

Engage with the family member

A patient’s loved one likely feels stressed and helpless while their family member is hospitalized. As a nurse, including the loved one or caregiver in conversations around the patient’s care can help them to feel empowered and part of the health care team. It’s also a great opportunity to educate them on patient care tasks they may be responsible for once the patient is discharged. Engaging with a family member includes best practices such as proactively asking if they have any questions or concerns and expressing empathy.

Educate and Inform

Medical terminology can be confusing, and it is often the responsibility of the nurse to make sure the patient and the appropriate family member(s) understand the situation. This includes helping them to understand the diagnosis, condition, and next steps. This complete information should be given to them in a timely manner with the use of plain language. Many nurses find it helpful to have the loved one repeat back the information they were given to ensure it was fully understood.

Are you interested in showcasing your nursing and communication skills at Baton Rouge General? Call or text a recruiter today at (985) 606-9061 for current nursing opportunities.