Blog spotlight: Communicate and commit to nursing

Nurse Leader Insider, December 29, 2008

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This week, Kathleen Bartholomew, RC, RN, MN, peers into the crucial need for communication, and sometimes confrontation, in healthcare environments:

Healthcare is characterized by a culture of silence, especially surrounding errors. Deeply embedded in both the physician and nurse culture is the belief that good nurses and physicians don't make mistakes. Whether vocalized or not, we expect perfection from these human beings, and this is unarticulated belief results in a culture of blame, shame, and most of all silence.

It is our ethical and moral obligation to create a communication culture where we can say everything that is on our minds at all times. Here are some steps you can take to become more comfortable and more adept at confronting other people:

  1. Think of a conversation that you want to have at your workplace-the one you've been putting off. Imagine that someone has assured you that it will turn out okay.
  2. Who do you need to talk to? What about?
  3. Now, rate how painful it will be for you to have this conversation on the pain scale of 1-10. Pick the very first number that comes to your mind.
  4. Stop for a moment and identify the reason that you are not engaging in this particular conversation.

Only when nurses summon the courage and develop the skill set to start taking conversational risks will the image of nursing change. First, we elevate ourselves in each other's eyes, and then in the public's eyes. What is required is to be yourself (flaws and all) while holding yourself and others accountable.

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