Assertiveness in Nursing Training


Nurses play an integral part in the treatment of patients. Administering medicine, checking vital signs and insuring treatment compliance fall within the purview of a nurse. Patients can often be noncompliant, which nurses need to address, as it can lead to serious consequences for patients. Assertiveness training aids nurses in communicating with noncompliant patients.


  • Assertiveness is a form of communication in which the needs or concerns of one party are communicated to a second party in a way that is both firm yet not hostile or aggressive. Assertiveness is the most ideal type of communication with aggresive and passive aggressive communication being least effective.


  • Within a nursing program, nurses learn how to be assertive. This may be offered as a stand alone course or as a pervasive subject throughout the program. Assertiveness training involves learning about the three different communication styles, examples of those styles, outcomes of each style and how to communicate assertively. Participants practice by role-playing. Instructors may even showcase assertiveness in action when students accompany them on their rounds checking on patients.


  • Effective communication is a work in progress so you will not employ the perfect level of assertiveness each time it is necessary. While obtaining training in a nursing program is a good start, once in the field working with patients you will need to consciously choose to engage in assertive communication. Assertive communication also works well within all areas of life so you might consider using assertive communication in your personal life as needed.


  • Assertiveness training is important in nursing for two main reasons. One is that nurses are charged with making sure that patients are following the treatment plan. For example, a patient with heart disease will have a restricted diet but if he is not following this, he is putting his life in danger. A nurse must be able to communicate with the patient why it is so important that he follow the doctor's orders. The second reason assertiveness training is important is to prevent burnout. Nurses have a high risk of burnout, particularly novice nurses. Burnout is an experience of exhaustion and lost of interest. Most people who become nurses do so with a desire to help people. If a nurse sees that a patient is not getting better or is not following doctor's orders and feels powerless to help rectify the situation, then she risks burnout. According to a study done in Japan, as reported by Medical News Today, novice nurses tend to burnout more easily when their assertiveness scores are too low. Assertiveness training helps prevent this because it empowers nurses to communicate effectively to assist in patient recovery.

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