01.05 Communicating with Other Nurses

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Included In This Lesson

Study Tools



  1. Communication between coworkers
  2. Communication between units

Nursing Points


  1. Confidence
    1. Everyone has the same large priority which is to care for the patients
  2. Don’t be afraid to admit you were wrong or apologize
  3. Understand different units have different priorities
    1. Life saving versus healing and medical management
  4. Conflict resolution
    1. Deal with the problem at hand
    2. Have open dialogue
    3. Talk it out
    4. Remember we all have the same big goal
      1. Provide care to the patient
    5. Identify the different needs or smaller goals
    6. Brainstorm
      1. Find compromise and solution for each
    7. Implement solution


In this lesson I will explain how to best communicate with other nurses.
Communication with other nurses could involve just coworkers you are with everyday, nurses on other units that you might need help from, or a transfer of care to another unit. Let’s look at how we can best communicate in these situations.

When communicating no matter what it is have confidence. Everyone has the same large priority or goal which is to provide the best care for the patients. Understand different units have different priorities. Some units like the emergency department or ICU are more about the life saving versus getting the patient to do self care or cleaned up. So that should be kept in mind. Priorities come first. And unless you’ve worked on this other unit before you can’t put yourself in their shoes so be respectful of that. You will talk to nurses constantly throughout your shifts and it will become easy but the biggest things are just to be confident and try to understand all sides. Try to put yourselves in their shoes. And most importantly don’t be afraid to admit if you are wrong in conversation and something you have said. Sometimes even when you think you have good communication there will be conflict so I want to talk a little about this conflict resolution.

Conflict resolution is going to involve a lot of communication. There needs to be open dialogue to talk it out and deal with the problem at hand. Remember we all have the same big goal and that is to provide excellent care to the patient. So if each party can Identify the different needs and then work to find a compromise or solution to accommodate everyone. Then we can Implement the solution. There will be times that you have to agree to disagree and just walk away but in most situations a solution will need to be found so performing these resolution tactics can be helpful. A conflict resolution I was involved occurred recently. I work in a nursery where we care for the baby at delivery until they are 2 hours old. At that time they are transferred to the mother infant unit. We were getting phone calls from them whenever something went wrong. For instance they would call and say, “You sent us a cold baby”, which we termed “cold shaming” or most recently they called to let us know that we sent a baby that was grunting and then dropped its temperature. Well that was where we drew the line and had to have big communication with the nurses on the unit. We had to let them know we would never purposefully send a cold baby, right? And that if a baby is grunting it is having respiratory difficulty which means the provider should have been called first not us. We didn’t make that baby have breathing trouble or drop it’s temperature. Babies change fast and that one had become septic from delivery. So in this conversation we gave our side and reminded them that babies change fast and they are capable of warming a baby if cold or doing next steps because they are nurses too. They explained their frustrations that sometimes they are busy doing other things so its hard when the babies are not stable. They agreed that it was not our fault and they would handle it differently. This communication needed to happen and my unit had avoided it for a while and in the end I wish we had talked about it the first time it happened and shut it down with a solution because the conversation did go really well. We each explained our sides and understood the other side and respected each other.
You can’t avoid communicating with other nurses so let’s review the key points. You have to be confident and confident in what you believe. Show respect because it will make the communication go smoother and be productive. Keep in mind that there are going to be be different perspectives and priorities between units. And part of having communication with other nurses is going to be using good conflict resolution.

Practice conflict resolution tactics and work to be a good communicator with other nurses.. Now, go out and be your best selves today. And, as always, happy nursing.