Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) work with people of all ages, backgrounds, and conditions. They are generally the cornerstones of their community practices too, which means they are relied upon to handle a variety of complex demands. It is ultimately a role that requires an expert communicator!
However, communication is more than just speaking and listening. It is about translating care needs to patients, ensuring the right details reach relevant specialists and departments, and making sure that all case developments are recorded carefully should there be any major changes.
When a nurse chooses to progress down a different fork of the nursing road – such as becoming a nurse educator – they should always put communication on a pedestal!
Without clear communication, patients under the care of an FNP are at risk of experiencing worsening symptoms or even heading to the hospital in the most extreme cases.
Communicating poorly could cause a life-or-death scenario – so this article will look at how this skill comes into play across a typical day for an FNP in the US.
Helping patients understand their needs
Receiving medical care or attention can be scary for patients regardless of age. Therefore, it is the role of an FNP to provide the details that patients need to get better with care and compassion.
No one likes to hear bad news, and in the medical profession, nurses are likely to provide information that can change the course of patients’ lives forever – for better or worse.
As a result, nurses should always take the time to understand what patients need and think carefully about how they can translate this into gentle language.
Naturally, nurses should also take the time to translate difficult language and complex medical terminology. What makes sense to nurses and other specialists isn’t always going to translate smoothly to patients.
Individuals who take a post-master’s FNP online (with recognized bodies such as Rockhurst University, for example), will typically refine the ‘soft skills’ needed when working with patients of all ages each day.
Rockhurst University’s focus on helping students understand how to communicate effectively with patients is just as important for their pupils as the technical or theory aspects.
Easing patients into care programs
Not all patients will be immediately receptive and feel comfortable when entering new care and treatment programs. While nurses are ultimately helping them get better, receiving medical treatment – even when simply trying new medication – can seem scary for many.
Therefore, it is wise for nurses to take a calm, communicative approach and lead patients into a care program they can see genuinely benefits them. Nurses should listen actively to patients’ needs and prepare how to deliver the news of new programs and treatments to them.
In some cases, FNPs will find that patients can be stubborn or even obstructive. In these moments, it’s important that they remain authoritative yet caring – otherwise, these patients may double down and refuse to take further care of themselves!
Therefore, it is essential that nurses show patients the direct benefits of the care they require. Effective communication at this stage of treatment involves explaining to patients how their cases will progress, what they can expect at each stage, and when and how they can reach out for help.
For example, if a patient is transferred onto a new round of medication, nurses must explain potential side effects, when to take said medication, and dosage. FNPs should also take the time to illustrate what the patient can expect to happen during a particular course of treatment.
Helping patients visualize their care plans with effective communication will ease worries and help people warm to the treatments in store for them. In many cases, even if patients are being aggressive, they are simply looking for reassurance as to what will happen next.
Ensuring patients get the right specialist care
FNPs meet a wide range of medical demands, however, there will always be some cases where they need to pass matters over to specialists, such as those based within larger or dedicated hospital units.
For example, FNPs can typically care for and advise pregnant women on how to care for their bodies and their babies. However, in the event of a potential miscarriage, they would refer patients over to an antenatal specialist in a local facility.
Therefore, an FNP needs to communicate clearly with specialists and departments beyond the remit of their immediate care.
They will need to reach out to doctors and nurses who specialize in different areas of outpatient support, translate the patient’s needs, and ensure that all the notes they provide are clear and simple to understand.
Furthermore, FNPs need to keep their patients in the loop. This includes carefully translating medical jargon where appropriate and helping patients to visualize a plan or timeline of what will unfold in the days and weeks ahead.
Above all, it pays for nurses to be honest with their patients when transferring them to specialist care. They should communicate the clear side effects of treatments, advise of what is likely to happen, and ensure they know the facts. Otherwise, if something goes wrong, they may have committed malpractice.
Keeping treatments efficient and effective
Clear communication with patients and specialists as an FNP is all about keeping care effective and efficient. Condensing complicated terminology and treatment plans into short, simple conversations and written communications will ensure patients get healthier quickly.
Clear communication plans also help departments provide care within timescales and deadlines they must strictly adhere to. Even FNPs in a small community practice will find that timing is everything.
In the fast-paced healthcare world, communicating effectively means that they can allow specialists to deliver effective intensive care, further enabling them to help more people faster.
Individuals considering becoming an FNP should ideally be natural communicators. That means being an active listener and adept at condensing complex details!
Of course, that is just one element of the FNP experience. However, nurses will find that the more effective a communicator they are, the better the care they will provide – and the sooner their patients can return home feeling healthy and refreshed.