Linda A. Rivers

February 2005

Communication Skills


Communication Skills are Necessary for Professional Success


            Have you ever been in a position to where what you said was misunderstood?  Maybe you wrote something down that you thought you heard, but you were unsure and instead of getting the right information, you assumed. Being a good communicator is essential do any type of job.

            I feel that I am a good communicator.  For instance, as a Medical Assistant, working as an Allergy Nurse.  I have found you must be able to effectively communicate with your patients and fellow co-workers. For example, I had one particular patient who was scheduled to come in for her weekly allergy injection.  Prior to her arrival, her shot records were reviewed and I had noticed that she would be starting a new vial.  In starting a new vial, the serum has to be decreased due to freshness; it may cause the patient to have an allergic reaction.  Initially the supervisor is required to annotate the bottle with instructions on what should be administered to the patient, with any prior notes from the last visit.  This particular day no instructions from the supervisor were left nor was there any documentation from the last injection given to the patient.  When I asked the patient how much was given on the last visit, which she was unsure of, the supervisor has already left for the day and was unreachable and the nurse who had given the last injection was unavailable.  No communication could be done, resulting in the patient receiving an injection that was way above the required amount, thus causing the patient to have a slight reaction. Effective communication is necessary in any field because, simple communication can prevent mishaps.

            Professional communication skills are very important, no matter what occupation you work in.  For instance, as Medical Assistant being able to communicate with my patient’s is essential.  The lack of communication in one person can cause an entire office to be labeled as a bad.  When you treat your patients as though they matter and you take the time to listen, you get the results you are looking for as a professional communicator.  A patient puts a certain amount of trust in knowing that you should have majority of the answers needed to whatever question they may ask.  If you constantly ignore request made such as something as simple as obtaining some literature about there current health situation, the patient will look at you with a lack of trust and concern for them.  Professional communication can and will carry you a long way if you pursue aggressively the knowledge for yourself, thus having confidence to pass it on.  As a nurse, you encounter many situations that demand the utmost professionalism you can obtain.

            If I were to sit down and evaluate myself on how well I communicate, I would have to say I do pretty well, with the exception of attention to detail.  Attention to detail is very important and over the year’s I have improved, but it did not start that way.  Having the opportunity to have worked in several different doctors’ offices I had to learn attention to detail.  For instance, as Allergy Nurse documentation is very important, so important that not documenting the littlest of details could cause a patient to go into shock, seizures or even death.  The lack of attention to detail can cause you to stand before a judge and explain why you did not pay attention to all the medication’s that were listed in a patient’s chart.  Attention to detail not just a cliché’, but a simple way of ensuring that every area is covered concerning your patients, even if it means repeating it back before documenting.

            Simply put, communication skills are essential in today’s society.  No matter what profession you choose to work in, be it a nurse, firefighter or even a secretary, communication skills are part of your everyday lifestyle.