Nursing and Assertiveness

In the assessment, planning, intervention, review and evaluation of patients (APIRE), it is important for nurses’ to establish good interpersonal relations. Here at Study Coach, we support nursing students with essays and dissertation, including understanding Therapeutic Communication and general Interpersonal Skills. The importance of effective communication is acknowledged in most nursing models and nursing students in the first year of their degree will need to become familiar with models of therapeutic communication. Good bedside manners is essential in nursing, in order to produce good outcomes and deliver quality care. Effective communication skills are required to build professional relationships with a multiple disciplinary team (MDT). The nursing role is demanding and will require skills such as effective listening, being empathetic and also being assertive.

For some nurses self-assertion can be a problem, not only in their professional lives but also in their personal lives. It does appear that sometimes the concept of assertiveness is confused with aggressiveness or ignorance. When developing assertiveness skills to work in the caring sector, we need to note that there are clear differences between assertiveness and aggressiveness. Assertiveness is not about getting one’s own way, but it is about having the freedom to express one’s needs, to stand up for one’s own rights whilst respecting the rights and needs of other people. Theoretical ideas suggest that there are a number of components involved in developing the skill of assertion. One component is to be specific, meaning that the person sending a message should be decisive about the point being made. The message should be stated succinctly without the unnecessary verbiage that often accompanies statements made when one is uncomfortable and anxious. When exercising assertiveness skills it is important to know exactly what we intend to say, and then to state it clearly and directly (Niven, 2006).

When being assertive it is important to be consistent when delivering the message, it is important not to become distracted. Furthermore, we should be persistent when making requests or when giving instructions; being persistent is likely to produce results, whereas being distracted by irrelevant comments can result in failure to communicate effectively. Meaning that the point we were trying to make is not made.

People can be very demanding and this include patients and their families, everybody believe that their health issue should be given high priority. Nurses therefore will quickly need to develop decision making skills based on objectivity, as opposed to prioritising patients’ who shout the loudest. It is also important to decide on those tasks which you can competently deal with, and say no to those you cannot possibly do. In cases where a no response is selected it is a good idea to start the reply by saying no (Niven, 2006). Use a firm voice and be consistent in explaining why you cannot give assistance. Do not feel guilty about saying no, it would be unwise to attempt to assist someone if you do not have the skills to assist. You could do great harm to patients by trying to help when you do not possess competent skills.

Finally, the relationship between a student nurse and mentor can sometimes become fickle, the pressures of working in a busy ward can bring added pressures. If your mentor criticise you, take time to reflect on the criticism and take care before using your new found assertiveness skills to challenge criticisms. Take particular care not to overtly criticise mentors when writing reflective essays. If you need guidance get in touch with me at Study Coach,

I will guide you with planning essays and evaluate drafts (Sorry, but Study Coach service, will not write the essay for you). I will assist you with meeting the assessment criteria and lots more, see my website or telephone Morel at Study Coach: 07944 849271.

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