Chapter 3 – Interprofessional Communication in Nursing

Interprofessional Communication

Within the context of health care, interprofessional communication can be defined as communication among members of a client care team, which may include members of various professional groups. For example, it may involve you as the nurse, clients, families, and also other healthcare professionals such as physicians, physiotherapists, midwives, pharmacists, dieticians, and personal support workers.

 

Figure 3.2: Interprofessional communication

 

Interprofessional communication involves verbal, written, and non-verbal communication as defined in Chapter 1.

During interprofessional communication, verbal communication may include conversations between two or more members of the interprofessional team, usually in person as illustrated in Figure 3.2 or over the telephone. See Table 3.1 for specific communication types and examples that are common in healthcare.

Written communication in the interprofessional context commonly includes documentation notes in a client’s chart such as progress notes, physician orders, medication administration record, diagnostic reports, referral letters, and discharge notes. Other examples may include faxes and emails, and more recently, texts.

Finally, non-verbal communication in the interprofessional context involves meaning and interpretation conveyed through body language such as facial expressions, eye contact, body position, and gestures. It is important to be aware of your body language and ensure that it aligns with your verbal language.

 

Table 3.1: Examples of interprofessional communication

Communication type

Verbal communication example

Client/unit rounds where an interprofessional group discuss the client’s status and plan of care – many times the client and family are involved in these rounds.

Nurse: “Mr. Molina’s blood pressure has been stabilized all night with no chest pain since 2330. He remains on a saline drip and is scheduled for a cardiac catheterization this morning.”

Physician: “What’s his cognitive and renal status like?”

Nurse: “He is alert and oriented. No renal issues. He was started on an oral beta blocker last night and had a dose this morning, and was given a dose of 20 mg furosemide this morning too. However, he is wondering about whether he should be restarted on his cholesterol medication.”

Physician: “Yes, that is fine to restart, and please notify me when his cath results come back.”

Nurse: “Sounds good.”

In-person or phone conversations in which you are providing a client update and consulting another healthcare professional on a plan of action.

Nurse: “Hello, I am Rita Lin, a registered nurse working with the client Meaka Lorne at General Highschool. Meaka is having suicidal ideation although she does not have an immediate plan. However, I think it is time to initiate more intensive therapy.”

Therapist: “Yes, I remember Meaka. How is her anxiety and depression?”

Nurse: “Her anxiety has been exacerbated over the last couple of weeks, and as a result she hasn’t been going to school. She has felt quite sad and gloomy over the last week, which is when the thoughts of suicide emerged.”

Therapist: “I recall this is how it began last year.”

Nurse: “Yes, she also indicated that.”

Therapist: “Can you remind me whether she still lives with her father.”

Nurse: “Yes, she does, and he is with her at home right now.”

Therapist: “Okay, let’s get her in for an appointment.”

Discussions that occur among healthcare professionals while providing client care.

Physician: “I am just about to insert the central venous catheter, could you shift the light a little this way.”

Nurse: “Yes, no problem. I have the IV primed, just let me know when you want me to hand it to you.”

Physician: “Will do. Ms. Bykov, you will feel a slight pinch, if you can stay still.”

Client: “Okay.”

Activity: Check Your Understanding

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Introduction to Communication in Nursing by Edited by Jennifer Lapum, Oona St-Amant, Michelle Hughes, and Joy Garmaise-Yee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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