Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Evaluating the Effect of Self-Awareness and Communication Techniques on Nurses' Assertiveness and Self-Esteem

Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Evaluating the Effect of Self-Awareness and Communication Techniques on Nurses' Assertiveness and Self-Esteem

Article excerpt

Nursing takes place within healthcare organizations and requires effective communication with everyone involved, in order to ensure competent and safe practice (Sully & Nicol, 2005). Nurses interact with patients, colleagues and other healthcare professionals on a daily basis, and this interaction is improved when nurses have good communication skills (Deltsidou, 2009). Assertiveness is an interpersonal behaviour that promotes equality in human relationships by assisting individuals to give expression to their rights, thoughts and feelings in a manner that neither denies nor demeans but recognizes and respects those of others (Freeman & Adams, 1999). It is a communication style which is considered as an important behaviour for today's professional nurse and the key to successful relationships with clients, families, and colleagues (Riley, 2000).

Assertiveness is necessary for student nurses who will interact with their colleagues and other healthcare professionals on a daily basis and provide care for patients and their families, and for society, in the areas of health and education. They should be individuals with high self-esteem and assertiveness in order to establish better communication in society and use their professional knowledge and skills more effectively (Charney, 1994; Diaz & McMillin, 1991; Ibrahim, 2011; Kisa & Dziegielewski, 1996).

University students who have low self-esteem and assertiveness without a doubt exhibit negative professional attitudes and behaviours when they graduate. In this perspective, it is essential for nursing students, who will serve individuals, families and society in the field of health and education in the future, to be individuals with high self-esteem and assertiveness in order to be able to establish communication more comfortably in society and to be able to use their professional knowledge and skills more effectively (Deltsidou, 2009; Karagözog¢lu, Kahve, Koç, & Adamisog¢lu, 2008).

Nurses' development of self-awareness and effective communication in the healthcare setting should begin in the nursing education programme. Classroom-based knowledge is not always easily transferred to clinical practice, as was demonstrated in the research by Jones (2007). The researcher explored nursing undergraduates' interpersonal skills by reviewing and analysing tapes and transcriptions of actual nurse-patient interactions. Jones (2007) noted that the style of communication did not correspond with the didactic teaching presented and encouraged for nurse-patient interactions. Traditional classroom teaching of self-awareness and communication skills does not allow for practical application. Practising self-awareness and communication skills through demonstration, role play, experience in daily life, receiving feedback, and watching films allows students to practise and test their skills in a safe, non-threatening environment and allows faculty to evaluate and provide feedback to the students (Zavertnik, Huff, & Munro, 2010).

Instructors have an essential role in the improvement and achievement of assertivenesstraining curricula for undergraduate nursing students (Deltsidou, 2009). The current study tested the influence of a course on self-awareness and communication techniques on nursing students' assertiveness and self-esteem. The training techniques used in the study were designed to provide an opportunity for students to engage actively in demonstrating and experiencing skills and to receive constructive feedback and coaching. Documentation of the effectiveness of this educational approach can help to build an evidence-based curriculum and aid decisions on the allocation of teaching support funds. In addition, the outcome of the study provides information for use in selecting skill development strategies in the classroom, a rapidly expanding resource in health education settings (Zavertnik et al., 2010).

Assertiveness

Assertiveness refers to the ability to express one's feelings, opinions, beliefs, and needs directly, openly and honestly, while not violating the personal rights of others (Ellis & Hartley, 2005). …

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