Developing good communication skills: the key to working in intensive care

20 April 2023
Volume 32 · Issue 8


In her series on the early steps of a newly qualified nurse, Heather George, Critical Care Staff Nurse, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (, reflects on developing her communication skills

While interviewing for my current role as a nurse in intensive care I was asked questions such as ‘What are the most important qualities of good teamwork?’, ‘How do you handle conflict?’ and ‘How do you manage workplace stress?’. I found my answers to these questions tended to revolve around one particular skill, which was good communication.

I can hold my hands up and say that communicating effectively has been one of the most difficult things for me to learn as a newly qualified nurse. As a student nurse, even in your final year of study, you always have a direct element of support. As a student you have your responsibilities, but there is always a qualified nurse who is ultimately responsible for the patients. It is the transition from working with direct support to working autonomously and having to ‘fight your own battles’ that has been a big challenge. Not to mention the fact that I am naturally quite a quiet and introverted person, so adapting to make my voice heard when needed wasn't easy. It's so important to feel confident enough to speak up and be an advocate for your patient, especially in work areas such as intensive care, where my patients are often sedated and unable to communicate for themselves.

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