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Communication skills are paramount in healthcare for all patients, but perhaps even more important when patients and providers come from dissimilar origins. It is highly recommended that healthcare professionals be familiar with differences in nonverbal and verbal communication for the immigrant and refugee groups they serve. Nonverbal communication is replete with multiple meanings, so that cross-cultural miscommunication can easily occur. Providers should understand the group's general nonverbal communication patterns, such as eye contact Is direct eye contact experienced as engaging or belligerent?

Verbal communication differences must also be addressed. Ideally, healthcare professionals can become fluent in the languages of the people they serve. If this is not possible, it is highly recommended to learn basic greetings and medical words. However, irrespective of one's level of fluency, it is essential for healthcare providers at all levels to become proficient in working with interpreters. There is a vast range of interpreters and interpretive services available, from telephone consultations to professional interpreters who are appropriately matched to patients. Guidelines generally encourage working with trained interpreters, rather than adult family members, children, or untrained individuals who happen to know the language.

It may also be helpful if they can act as a cultural broker in addition to providing linguistic interpretation.

Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) :: Washington State Department of Health

For more information on interpreters, see Ch. Jan Andersen, in Research Management , Communication skills includes conveying information on policies clearly verbally and written , report writing, preparing and conducting presentations, and tailoring communications to targeted audiences. As a research administrator, it is crucial to develop your ability to get your message through to a range of different audiences.

Your role as an adviser is valuable only in combination with information held by others, be it a postdoc or a professor, a department director or a dean, or some of your colleagues at the research office. To target your message, you will have to listen to the needs of the recipient to know when and how to customize your information, and when your information can be delivered in a more standardized way.

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The complexity in this environment will often demand rather customized communication, especially toward the academic staff. Some would like to be guided at all steps of an application process; others can be best helped just by sending them in the right direction. A challenging, but typical situation, occurs when vital information has to reach the researchers, but that they do not know, or acknowledge, that they need it to succeed with their application or to stand an audit in a research project.

A professional administrator on the middle or advanced level is expected to be ahead of the events, thus knowing about the emerging calls in EU or the latest information on future mechanisms in national research financing. In such cases, it is vital to be able to communicate to the academic staff information they are unaware that they need. A prerequisite for success here is that the recipient has to trust the research administrator, a topic we will deal with further down. In our profession, we are often asked to summarize very complex policies and procedures in a wide variety of formats to targeted audiences.

Examples include responding to an email from an investigator, who does not know if his or her travel expenses for a conference he or she attended are reimbursable off of his or her sponsored project. It can be a phone call to an academic administrator wanting a summary of how a required government budget form has changed. It can be in the form of a formal presentation, explaining to researchers why they must now, as a result of a major government policy change, include in their grant applications transparent methodology to ensure robust and unbiased research results.

Or, it can be in the form of a formal, written proposal to leadership, requesting an increase in staffing with justification for the need. In each of these examples, knowing what you want to communicate, and identifying what you want your targeted audience to do, will drive how you communicate. An effective communicator in this field can reduce administrative burden, save the valuable time of researchers, and provide much relief from those seeking advice and assistance. Many institutions of higher education offer free or low cost options for professional development for employees.

As part of these options, there may be opportunities to attend a business writing workshop or watch videos on how to improve the effectiveness of your email communications. Research administrators should proactively seek these opportunities within their organizations through their human resources department.

Good Communication Means Good Patient Care - Texas Children's Hospital

If these options are not available, having a conversation with their supervisors about attending external workshops should be included in a discussion. Basic business writing and email etiquette is the core of an effective communicator. In research administration, it can make or break your reputation.

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Do you come off in your emails as someone who is knowledgeable, helpful, and customer service friendly? Or, are you seen as a bureaucrat, leaving the audience feeling that they are on their own to figure out what needs to get done? Knowing how to effectively use PowerPoint or Prezi is a fantastic skill! One can create clean, beautiful presentations to convey important messages. One of the challenges I have had in my role in internal communications is creating PowerPoint slides to explain important, complex government regulations.

An important lesson I have learned is that regulations, policies, procedures, and other lengthy materials do not make good text on slides. I still struggle with this because I want to put in writing the justifications for why I want my audience to do something. The effective communicator should provide these resources as back-up materials or handouts, while slides are meant to summarize what you want your audience to walk away with, and actually do. Taking classes on the effective use of PowerPoint is something all those in training and leadership positions should invest in.

In our profession, one also needs to strike a balance in how often you communicate, and how quickly. You may be in a position where it is your responsibility to communicate change broadly, either through mailing lists, listservs, your website, or through social media. Consider this example: The National Institutes of Health NIH releases an announcement that all appendices are now eliminated from grant applications except under very specific circumstances.

This will have a major impact on how researchers and administrators prepare proposals. Do you make an announcement right away, as soon as the NIH made their announcement? Or, do you wait for more information, such as their revised, formal instructions, which are not expected to be released for several months? An assessment must be done: who is impacted by the change? When does the change take effect? Will this change have an impact on other offices in your organization? Will this have an impact on your electronic proposal development systems, and will the individuals responsible for those systems need to be notified before the rest of the research community?

Is it expected that more information will be forthcoming from the NIH? If you announce it right away, is there a possibility NIH will send more information, or clarify their announcement in some way? It takes experience to know what to do, how to best communicate the change, and how fast to communicate it.

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Communicating such news quickly establishes trust may save valuable time for researchers. However, communicating too quickly may mean retracting your statements if the information is dynamic or expected to be clarified. Having a degree in communications or public relations is not that farfetched for the field of research administration, so communication skills are important in your team. Being an effective communicator is crucial if you are a leader responsible for communicating change.

You will fail at implementing changes, large or small, if you cannot communicate effectively, succinctly, and clearly. Richard J. Special communication skills must be used when a patient transfers from one care setting to another; this often involves an entirely new set of health professionals. Objective measurements, numeric if possible, of such areas as mental status, activities of daily living ADLs and instrumental ADLs IADLs , the range of movement in degrees, and exercise tolerance by distance, should be used whenever possible so that change can be appreciated and acted upon.


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Books on communication skills tend to emphasize the importance of letting the patient's story flow and not interrupting it. This is generally very sound advice, yet there are times when interruption is necessary, for example when patients have strayed too far from the point or presented an overwhelming amount of information such that the practitioner needs to pause to take stock. It is important to be confident in making appropriate interruptions in a way that does not upset the patient or upset the flow of the consultation. Body language is used to signal that an interruption is coming, e.

Examples of forms of words to explain the interruption include:.


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Karen J. Essential verbal communication skills include the ability to listen, understand, and respond to what people say active listening and the ability to interpret nonverbal communication and respond in a way that encourages continued interaction evaluation.