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Nursing 20 min read

The importance of effective communication in nursing

Fine-tuning your communication skills enhances your ability to interact with patients and colleagues in the workplace.



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Clear communication is important for all professions but especially nursing. Every day, nurses need to convey complex information to patients, families, colleagues and other health professionals in a way that’s understandable, empathetic and person-centred.

Effective communication in nursing takes many forms. To provide quality care, nurses must master various nursing communication strategies, including verbal, non-verbal and written communication.

By developing these crucial skills, nurses can improve their day-to-day experiences while contributing to a more positive future of nursing.

Why is communication important in nursing?

Communication skills are highly regarded in many workplaces, but it’s not in every setting that someone’s communication style can deeply affect the lives of others. Not only is effective communication in nursing vital to the health and safety of patients but also the mental health of nurses.

Here are some of the relationships nurses hold and why good communication is essential.

Communication between nurses

Nurses need to communicate effectively with each other for the benefit of patients, families and each other.

A primary component of a nurse’s job is to communicate pertinent patient information with other relevant health professionals to be able to deliver the best patient care.

Nurses must also communicate well amongst themselves for their own mental wellbeing in the workplace. Nursing can be demanding and poor communication can lead to high turnover and excessive stress. On the other hand, effective communication techniques in nursing can help build rapport, increase job satisfaction and improve morale.

Communication between nurses and other health professionals

Nurses often work with many different healthcare professionals, including allied health practitioners, doctors, social workers and other specialists.

Interprofessional communication requires a great deal of autonomy, assertiveness, mutual respect and confidentiality.

Nurses must share patient information sensitively and advocate for their patient’s needs. It’s crucial for nurses to ensure they understand the information communicated by other healthcare professionals and ask questions when further clarity is required.

Communication between nurses, patients and families

The most obvious line of communication nurses must follow is between themselves, patients and families. Patients are often in a state of distress when speaking to nurses, so clear, concise communication is imperative. In some cases, nurses may have to deliver difficult news to both patients and their families, each requiring a different level of professionalism and compassion.

It’s important to deliver information with a balance of empathy and confidence to ensure the patient feels more at ease with the details. Studies show that patients who feel their nurses are giving them their full attention are more likely to disclose information faster.

Additionally, effective communication in nursing can help:

  • patients and their families follow through with health plans
  • prevent lawsuits and medical malpractice.
  • improve patient satisfaction
  • optimise treatment outcomes with more clarity

The top skills for effective communication in nursing

Communication involves more than just delivering and receiving information verbally. While this is the most obvious form of communication, there is a wide range of techniques that nurses need to use to do their jobs effectively.

Verbal communication

As the name suggests, verbal communication is about sharing information through spoken language. This is how nurses will convey much of their information to others in both formal (patient care) and informal (conversations with colleagues in the break room) contexts. It also involves the tone, pace and timbre of the voice.

Written communication 

Written communication for nurses may include patient documents, treatment plans, emails and messages to other colleagues. All written documentation must be clear and detailed, containing the correct terminology and appropriate use of language.

Non-verbal communication

This nursing communication strategy involves body language, facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, touch and personal space. Empathy is also communicated through non-verbal communication and is often underestimated, so it’s important to ensure both verbal and non-verbal communication are in sync.

Other nursing communication strategies

Other important communication skills for nurses include:

  • active listening
  • relationship building
  • attentiveness
  • reading and responding to emotions
  • sensitivity to how others wish to communicate

Improve your communication skills with a postgraduate qualification

Nurses are often under the pump at work, so it can be difficult to actively polish these skills while on the clock. If you’re already working as a nurse and want to improve your communication skills or make a career change into healthcare, a postgraduate course can help.

Various units of a postgraduate course will help you strengthen your communication skills. Studying a master's program will give you in-depth training to prepare you for any healthcare role. You can become a leader in persuasive communication, conflict management and dispute resolution, along with many other leadership skills to grow your career.

Discover a range of online postgraduate nursing courses from some of Australia’s leading universities online. Our courses will teach you a range of skills, including effective communication in nursing, so that you can further develop your career.

Studying online is particularly beneficial for busy nurses. Our courses are flexible, so you can fit them into your schedule and continue your career while developing relevant nurse interpersonal skills.

James Cook University’s online postgraduate nursing courses include a core unit focused on persuasive communication. Students will explore communication strategies, digital communication and advanced strategies for potentially challenging conversations and relationships in the workplace.

University of Technology Sydney also has a range of postgraduate online nursing courses that include units covering effective communication.

Effective communication in nursing is essential

Possessing advanced communication skills as a nurse can improve every aspect of the job — from increased job satisfaction and better performance to more thorough patient care.

Postgraduate nursing degrees are a great way to refine these important qualities. Explore our range of nursing programs to find out how a postgraduate qualification can improve your communication skills and lead to a longer, more successful career. 

Postgraduate nursing courses in Australia

The courses below are listed by qualification level, from lowest to highest.

Graduate Certificate in Nursing
Graduate Certificate in Nursing
Award-winning study model VU's award-winning postgraduate Block Model recognises the complexity of students' lives while giving a consistent, manageable and connected online learning experience. Earn your Graduate Certificate in Nursing faster than on-campus with our unique study model. No exams or textbooks to purchase The online units have been designed with a student-centred approach that spans from the overarching learning outcomes to engaging activities and self-determined assessments. Support seven days and in the evenings Get the support you need, when you need it, during your course. VU's support network has a single focus on ensuring you are entirely supported to succeed. VU Online’s Graduate Certificate in Nursing is designed for registered nurses to transform the delivery of healthcare services in Australia. You can successfully earn your Graduate Certificate in Nursing by enrolling in 4 consecutive study periods of seven weeks each. This means you can enrol and complete your course in as little as eight months.   Each course is delivered 100% online, giving students the flexibility to fit study around their busy personal and professional lives. VU Online, takes a personalised 1:1 approach to online learning, which makes learning highly interactive and supported. With 25 years of experience delivering postgraduate courses in Australia, VU has equipped thousands of students from all walks of life with the knowledge and skills to successfully achieve their unique career goals including promotion, salary increase and leadership and innovation in nursing.
Graduate Certificate 8 months 4 Units
Units
  • Promoting Cultural Competence and Community Health
  • Care Coordination in Practice
  • Leading Improvement and Innovation
  • Evidence and Research for Practice
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Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education
Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education
#1 in Australia for academic reputation in Nursing (QS World University Rankings, 2022) Top ranked for Excellence in Research in Australia for Nursing & Midwifery (QS Stars Rating, 2018-2021) Australia's #1 performing university under 50 (QS Top 50 Under 50, 2020) UTS Online's Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education is for nurses that want to build their expertise in interdisciplinary education, collaboration and leadership to influence workplace outcomes in healthcare settings. Students will develop the skills to lead and manage change while implementing effective approaches for building evidence-based teaching and learning capacity in their workplace. This course is delivered 100% online in a collaborative learning environment where students engage in interactive activities that address real-world challenges relevant to their practice. Upon successful completion of the Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education, you will have the opportunity to progress to one of the following courses: Master of Advanced Nursing (available to registered nurses only) Master of Education (Learning and Leadership)
Graduate Certificate 8 months 4 Units
Units
  • Creating a Culture of Teaching and Learning in Healthcare
  • Designing Innovative Learning
  • Specialty Clinical Practice
  • Plus Electives
Graduate Certificate of Nursing Majoring in Advanced Practice
Graduate Certificate of Nursing Majoring in Advanced Practice
100% online and part-time Fast-track your career with flexible study you can balance around your life. Study one subject at a time and complete your degree in as little as eight months part-time. One of Australia's top 10 nursing schools You’ll study and connect with industry leaders, specialists and experienced nurse academics. JCU’s online Graduate Certificate of Nursing will help prepare you for the healthcare system of tomorrow. Australia's healthcare landscape is changing. Governments, industry and healthcare providers are working smarter to meet rising costs coupled with the increasing demand on our health system. You’ll develop advanced knowledge and specialist skills in your chosen nursing field. You’ll be able to take on nursing leadership roles in your area of practice, receive increased professional recognition and boost your potential to seize new opportunities in your nursing career. The Advanced Practice major gives you the skills you need to deliver advanced patient care, with two specialised units in the Graduate Certificate.
Graduate Certificate 8 months 4 Units
Units
  • Quality Use of Medicines in Practice
  • Effective Clinical Governance
  • Advanced Health Assessment
  • Persuasive Communication
Graduate Certificate of Nursing Majoring in Education
Graduate Certificate of Nursing Majoring in Education
100% online and part-time Fast-track your career with flexible study you can balance around your life. Study one subject at a time and complete your degree in as little as eight months part-time. One of Australia's top 10 nursing schools You’ll study and connect with industry leaders, specialists and experienced nurse academics. JCU’s online Graduate Certificate of Nursing will help prepare you for the healthcare system of tomorrow. Australia's healthcare landscape is changing. Governments, industry and healthcare providers are working smarter to meet rising costs coupled with the increasing demand on our health system. You’ll develop advanced knowledge and specialist skills in your chosen nursing field. You’ll be able to take on nursing leadership roles in your area of practice, receive increased professional recognition and boost your potential to seize new opportunities in your nursing career. The Education major, with its two specialised units in healthcare education, gives you the ability to take on educational practice roles in clinical or non-clinical environments.
Graduate Certificate 8 months 4 Units
Units
  • Principles of Education for the Health Professional
  • Teaching in Practice Settings
  • Clinical Coaching
  • Persuasive Communication
Graduate Certificate of Nursing Majoring in Leadership & Management
Graduate Certificate of Nursing Majoring in Leadership & Management
100% online and part-time Fast-track your career with flexible study you can balance around your life. Study one subject at a time and complete your degree in as little as eight months part-time. One of Australia's top 10 nursing schools You’ll study and connect with industry leaders, specialists and experienced nurse academics. JCU’s online Graduate Certificate of Nursing will help prepare you for the healthcare system of tomorrow. Australia's healthcare landscape is changing. Governments, industry and healthcare providers are working smarter to meet rising costs coupled with the increasing demand on our health system. You’ll develop advanced knowledge and specialist skills in your chosen nursing field. You’ll be able to take on nursing leadership roles in your area of practice, receive increased professional recognition and boost your potential to seize new opportunities in your nursing career. The Leadership and Management major gives you the confidence and knowledge to embrace management or leadership positions in healthcare, with two specialist units of study.
Graduate Certificate 8 months 4 Units
Units
  • Leading and Managing in Health
  • Ethics and Health Management
  • Effective Clinical Governance
  • Persuasive Communication
Graduate Diploma of Nursing Majoring in Advanced Practice
Graduate Diploma of Nursing Majoring in Advanced Practice
100% online and part-time Fast-track your career with flexible study you can balance around your life. Study one subject at a time and complete your degree in as little as eight months part-time. One of Australia's top 10 nursing schools You’ll study and connect with industry leaders, specialists and experienced nurse academics. Australia’s health system is changing to meet more demand than ever before. James Cook University’s Online Graduate Diploma of Nursing will equip you with the critical thinking skills and theoretical knowledge to apply advanced nursing concepts in the clinical setting. This online course will prepare you to lead nursing practice and optimise patient outcomes in a hospital setting. The Advanced Practice major gives you the skills you need to deliver advanced patient care through eight specialised units.
Graduate Diploma 16 months 8 Units
Units
  • Synthesising Evidence for Healthcare
  • Effective Clinical Governance
  • Persuasive Communication
  • Informatics for Health Professionals
  • Advanced Health Assessment
  • Quality Use of Medicines in Practice
  • Applied Health Assessment and Advanced Practice
  • Diagnostic Reasoning for Advanced Practice
Graduate Diploma of Nursing Majoring in Education
Graduate Diploma of Nursing Majoring in Education
100% online and part-time Fast-track your career with flexible study you can balance around your life. Study one subject at a time and complete your degree in as little as eight months part-time. One of Australia's top 10 nursing schools You’ll study and connect with industry leaders, specialists and experienced nurse academics. Australia’s health system is changing to meet more demand than ever before. James Cook University’s Online Graduate Diploma of Nursing will equip you with the critical thinking skills and theoretical knowledge to apply advanced nursing concepts in the clinical setting. This online course will prepare you to lead nursing practice and optimise patient outcomes in a hospital setting. The Education major, with its eight specialised units in healthcare education, gives you the ability to take on educational practice roles in clinical or non-clinical environments.
Graduate Diploma 16 months 8 Units
Units
  • Principles of Education for the Health Professional
  • Teaching in Practice Settings
  • Clinical Coaching
  • Persuasive Communication
  • Informatics for Health Professionals
  • Contemporary Healthcare Education
  • Effective Clinical Governance
  • Synthesising Evidence for Healthcare
Graduate Diploma of Nursing Majoring in Leadership & Management
Graduate Diploma of Nursing Majoring in Leadership & Management
100% online and part-time Fast-track your career with flexible study you can balance around your life. Study one subject at a time and complete your degree in as little as eight months part-time. One of Australia's top 10 nursing schools You’ll study and connect with industry leaders, specialists and experienced nurse academics. Australia’s health system is changing to meet more demand than ever before. James Cook University’s Online Graduate Diploma of Nursing will equip you with the critical thinking skills and theoretical knowledge to apply advanced nursing concepts in the clinical setting. This online course will prepare you to lead nursing practice and optimise patient outcomes in a hospital setting. The Leadership and Management major gives you the confidence and knowledge to embrace management or leadership positions in healthcare, with eight specialist units of study.
Graduate Diploma 16 months 8 Units
Units
  • Leading and Managing in Health
  • Ethics and Health Management
  • Effective Clinical Governance
  • Persuasive Communication
  • Informatics for Health Professionals
  • Business and Finance for the Health Manager
  • Conflict and Dispute Resolution in Healthcare
  • Synthesising Evidence for Healthcare
Master of Nursing (Chronic Disease and Ageing)
Master of Nursing (Chronic Disease and Ageing)
Award-winning study model VU's award-winning postgraduate Block Model recognises the complexity of students' lives while giving a consistent, manageable and connected online learning experience. Earn your Master of Nursing (Chronic Disease and Ageing) faster than on-campus with our unique study model. No exams or textbooks to purchase The online units have been designed with a student-centred approach that spans from the overarching learning outcomes to engaging activities and self-determined assessments. Support seven days and in the evenings Get the support you need, when you need it, during your course. VU's support network has a single focus on ensuring you are entirely supported to succeed. VU Online’s Master of Nursing, with a specialisation in Chronic Disease and Ageing, is designed for registered nurses to transform the delivery of healthcare services in Australia. Across eight core units of study – from Promoting Cultural Competence and Community Health to Nursing Informatics – and four specialised units in Chronic Disease and Ageing, students will acquire skills that are in demand for senior nurse leaders. The Chronic Disease and Ageing specialisation provides registered nurses with a fundamental knowledge base to devise innovative care interventions and models of care for residents, patients, families and carers. Graduates with a Master of Nursing (Chronic Disease and Ageing) will acquire person-centred strategies to plan, assess, implement, evaluate, support and care for older individuals living with complex comorbidities or chronic health conditions. Each course is delivered 100% online, giving students the flexibility to fit study around their busy personal and professional lives. VU Online takes a personalised 1:1 approach to online learning, which makes learning highly interactive and supported. With 25 years of experience delivering postgraduate courses in Australia, VU has equipped thousands of students from all walks of life with the knowledge and skills to successfully achieve their unique career goals including promotion, salary increase and leadership and innovation in nursing.
Master's 24 months 12 Units
Units
  • Promoting Cultural Competence and Community Health
  • Care Coordination in Practice
  • Leading Improvement and Innovation
  • Evidence and Research for Practice
  • Complex Care Coordination
  • Nursing Informatics
  • Professional Development in Practice
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Innovation in Aged Care Practice
  • Health and Wellbeing for the Older Person
  • Research Project: Chronic Disease and Ageing
  • Plus Electives
Master of Nursing (Leadership)
Master of Nursing (Leadership)
Award-winning study model VU's award-winning postgraduate Block Model recognises the complexity of students' lives while giving a consistent, manageable and connected online learning experience. Earn your Master of Nursing (Leadership) faster than on-campus with our unique study model. No exams or textbooks to purchase The online units have been designed with a student-centred approach that spans from the overarching learning outcomes to engaging activities and self-determined assessments. Support 7 days and in the evenings Get the support you need, when you need it, during your course. VU's support network has a single focus on ensuring you are entirely supported to succeed. VU Online’s Master of Nursing, with a specialisation in Nursing Leadership, is designed for registered nurses to transform the delivery of healthcare services in Australia. Across eight core units of study – from Promoting Cultural Competence and Community Health to Nursing Informatics – and four specialised units in Nursing Leadership, students will acquire skills that are in demand for senior nurse leaders. The Nursing Leadership specialisation provides registered nurses with the knowledge to develop expertise in the provision of nursing leadership and a comprehensive understanding of management, including financial management. Graduates with a Master of Nursing (Leadership) will be prepared to shape the development and provision of healthcare services, specifically clinical leadership and successfully managing teams. Each course is delivered 100% online, giving students the flexibility to fit study around their busy personal and professional lives. VU Online takes a personalised 1:1 approach to online learning, which makes learning highly interactive and supported. With 25 years of experience delivering postgraduate courses in Australia, VU has equipped thousands of students from all walks of life with the knowledge and skills to successfully achieve their unique career goals including promotion, salary increase and leadership and innovation in nursing.
Master's 24 months 12 Units
Units
  • Promoting Cultural Competence and Community Health
  • Care Coordination in Practice
  • Leading Improvement and Innovation
  • Evidence and Research for Practice
  • Complex Care Coordination
  • Nursing Informatics
  • Professional Development in Practice
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Nursing Management
  • Nursing Leadership and Management
  • Financial Management for Nurses
  • Research Project: Nursing Leadership
Master of Nursing Majoring in Advanced Practice
Master of Nursing Majoring in Advanced Practice
With a rapidly ageing population, changes in technology, changes in management demands, and the evolution of nursing knowledge and practice, there are growing opportunities for qualified senior nurses and nurse leaders in Australia. JCU Online’s Master of Nursing gives you the qualifications and skills you need to evolve your career as fast as healthcare itself is changing. It will allow you to take on more complex roles and deliver better patient care. The Advanced Practice major, with its four specialised units, gives you the skills you need to deliver advanced patient care. Transform your practice and improve your clinical skillset. Develop key skills to help you succeed in clinical contexts. Understand the latest in healthcare informatics. Designed by passionate nursing professionals. Fast-track your career with 100% online study. Be supported by a dedicated Student Success Advisor.
Master's 24 months 12 Units
Units
  • Informatics for Health Professionals
  • Effective Clinical Governance
  • Persuasive Communication
  • Synthesising Evidence for Healthcare
  • Quantitative Research in Healthcare
  • Qualitative Research in Healthcare
  • Implementing Practice Development in Healthcare Contexts
  • Professional Portfolios for Career Advancement
  • Advanced Health Assessment
  • Quality Use of Medicines in Practice
  • Applied Health Assessment and Advanced Practice
  • Diagnostic Reasoning for Advanced Practice
Master of Nursing Majoring in Leadership & Management
Master of Nursing Majoring in Leadership & Management
With a rapidly ageing population, changes in technology, changes in management demands, and the evolution of nursing knowledge and practice, there are growing opportunities for qualified senior nurses and nurse leaders in Australia. JCU Online’s Master of Nursing gives you the qualifications and skills you need to evolve your career as fast as healthcare itself is changing. It will allow you to take on more complex roles and deliver better patient care. The Leadership and Management major gives you the confidence and knowledge to embrace management or leadership positions in healthcare, with four specialist units of study. Transform your practice and improve your clinical skillset Develop key skills to help you succeed in clinical contexts Understand the latest in healthcare informatics Designed by passionate nursing professionals Fast-track your career with 100% online study Be supported by a dedicated Student Success Advisor
Master's 24 months 12 Units
Units
  • Informatics for Health Professionals
  • Effective Clinical Governance
  • Persuasive Communication
  • Synthesising Evidence for Healthcare
  • Quantitative Research in Healthcare
  • Qualitative Research in Healthcare
  • Implementing Practice Development in Healthcare Contexts
  • Professional Portfolios for Career Advancement
  • Leading and Managing in Health
  • Ethics and Health Management
  • Business and Finance for the Health Manager
  • Conflict and Dispute Resolution in Healthcare
Master of Nursing Majoring in Education
Master of Nursing Majoring in Education
With a rapidly ageing population, changes in technology, changes in management demands, and the evolution of nursing knowledge and practice, there are growing opportunities for qualified senior nurses and nurse leaders in Australia. JCU Online’s Master of Nursing gives you the qualifications and skills you need to evolve your career as fast as healthcare itself is changing. It will allow you to take on more complex roles and deliver better patient care. The Education major, with its four specialised units in healthcare education, gives you the ability to take on educational practice roles in clinical or non-clinical environments. Transform your practice and improve your clinical skillset Develop key skills to help you succeed in clinical contexts Understand the latest in healthcare informatics Designed by passionate nursing professionals Fast-track your career with 100% online study Be supported by a dedicated Student Success Advisor
Master's 24 months 12 Units
Units
  • Informatics for Health Professionals
  • Effective Clinical Governance
  • Persuasive Communication
  • Synthesising Evidence for Healthcare
  • Quantitative Research in Healthcare
  • Qualitative Research in Healthcare
  • Implementing Practice Development in Healthcare Contexts
  • Professional Portfolios for Career Advancement
  • Principles of Education for the Health Professional
  • Teaching in Practice Settings
  • Clinical Coaching
  • Contemporary Healthcare Education
Master of Advanced Nursing
Master of Advanced Nursing
#1 in Australia for academic reputation in Nursing (QS World University Rankings, 2022) Top ranked for Excellence in Research in Australia for Nursing & Midwifery UTS Online’s Master of Advanced Nursing is designed for nurses who want to drive better outcomes for person-centred care in a range of health care settings. It offers four specialist pathways - Acute Care, Chronic and Complex Care, Quality and Safety, and Leadership and Management - and offers a range of electives to choose from if you elect to take a generalist pathway. This course is delivered part-time, 100% online and influenced by strong healthcare industry partners, making it one of the most contemporary and comprehensive courses of its kind.
Master's 24 months 12 Units
Units
  • Specialty Clinical Practice
  • Applied Pathophysiology in Practice
  • Evidence for Informing Practice
  • Improving Safety and Quality in Healthcare
  • Plus Electives

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