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Book Review: ‘Critical Conversations in Healthcare’

According to the American Hospital Association, the present healthcare environment poses a number of barriers to effective communication, including shorter hospital stays, more technologically complex medical care, and constrained resources. In “Critical Conversations in Healthcare: Scripts & Techniques for Effective Interprofessional & Patient Communication,” Cheri Clancy, MSN, MS, RN, NE-BC covers how to approach the daily communication challenges healthcare workers face.

“Critical Conversations in Healthcare” covers the gamut of communication issues, from differing communication styles and emotional intelligence to interprofessional coaching and improving the patient experience.

Body language

There are several strong sections that warrant attention. One chapter that stands out is the coverage of body language. The many nuances of physicality and behavior are outlined, as well as how these non-verbal cues can be interpreted. For someone who is new to assessing their own and others’ communication, observing body language is a tangible, non-invasive way to begin.

“Although many people believe confident people give firm handshakes, I know many confident people who offer timid handshakes … don’t judge someone based on the strength of his or her handshake. Rather than focusing on the strength of handshake, I suggest looking where the palms are facing in the handshake. This will tell you so much more.”

How to respond

The impromptu scripting techniques chapter is another gem. Filled with practical phrases that can be committed to memory, the reader can draw upon them in those situations that frequently come up when one feels pressured to answer a question on the spot. In addition, throughout the book, Clancy gives the reader “time to reflect,” an opportunity to evaluate one’s own communication and areas for improvement.

“One of the best ways to prepare for hard-to-have conversations is to ask yourself questions and reflect on your responses. Through this process, you can explore possible issues before they catch you by surprise.

What makes you nervous about this conversation?

What are you most worried about?

What personal issues come to mind as you anticipate this conversation?

What hot topics come to mind around this conversation?”

Other sections of the book that the reader will find valuable include:

Cheri Clancy, MSN, MS, RN, NE-BC
  • An overview of differing communication styles
  • How to approach communication from a place of curiosity, rather than certainty
  • How to approach a dissatisfied patient
  • Techniques for delivering bad news

Some of the material in “Critical Conversations in Healthcare” is drawn out and a bit redundant. Had it been condensed it would have been that much more powerful. But Clancy offers enough real-world advice and usable techniques to make it a worthy read. “Critical Conversations in Healthcare” would make a good choice for a unit book club discussion.

Your turn

Did you read this book? Would you recommend it to a fellow nurse?


By | 2020-04-15T16:36:56-04:00 December 8th, 2014|Categories: Archived|2 Comments

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