1. Flott, Elizabeth EdD, RN
  2. Young, Christine MSN
  3. Ball, Sarah J. PhD, RN
  4. Hercinger, Maribeth PhD, RN

Article Content

Development of therapeutic communication techniques is an essential skill for providing safe patient care. At a Midwestern university, students have historically practiced communication techniques with each other in foundational courses in the spring semester; however, no clinical experiences were included in that course. After students returned from summer break, they lacked confidence when communicating with patients during initial clinical experiences. To address this gap, communication site visits were implemented in the foundational course. For most students, this was their first interaction with a patient as a care provider unless they had prior nurse aide experience. Therapeutic communication principles including active listening and verbal and nonverbal techniques were reviewed prior to the visit. Students were paired and assigned an older adult patient either in a long-term or acute care setting for a 2-hour time period. During this time, students conducted a short personal/psychosocial interview using a developed interview guide. Afterward, a faculty-led debrief session was held for students to discuss the interaction and reflect on how they felt about the encounter. Overall, students described the experience as beneficial as it allowed for confidence building when interacting with patients. This teaching strategy assisted in developing confidence and patient-centered communication skills, including building rapport with patients and assessing their own communication skills prior to returning for a full clinical practicum in their next course.