Improving Nurse-Physician Communication


Healthcare professionals focus on providing safe and quality care to their patients. Providers from different disciplines collaborate in different settings when caring for their clients. For example, it is common for doctors to be involved in teamwork, dealing with complicated clinical conditions. Therefore, the members of the profession are expected to communicate and collaborate effectively for quality and satisfactory outcomes (Matziou et al., 2014). However, nurse-physician communication is one of the areas in healthcare that remains problematic. Nurse and physicians perceive the teamwork as important but agree that they do not relate optimally. Since the negative relationship affects their ability to meet the needs of their patients, it is necessary to understand the effectiveness of nurse-physician communication in a healthcare setting to implement workable solutions.

Goal Statement

Effective nurse-physician communication is critical in the ability to provide quality and safe care to patients. However, the relationship between the two professionals is not always positive, affecting their potential to meet the needs of their patients optimally (Henkin et al., 2016). They lack proper exchange of information, thoughts, and feelings, even when working in critical settings such as in the intensive care unit. As a result, they place patients in the danger of negative outcomes, including medical errors and hospital-acquired infections. The goal of the practicum project is to understand the perceptions of nurses and physicians about the effectiveness of communication and collaboration between them to implement successful interventions to address the issue.

Project Objectives

The practicum project will achieve three objectives:

  1. Determine the perceptions of nurses and physicians about the current barriers to communication.
  2. Evaluate feedback from both nurses and physicians to improve communication between them.
  3. Propose effective solutions for nurses and physicians to improve communication skills and enhance collaboration in providing patient care.

Evidence-Based Review of the Literature for Project Justification

Effective nurse-physician communication is one of the most important factors in determining patient outcomes since the different professionals work together to provide care. However, while care providers agree with the significance of good communication and collaboration, they also affirm that the process is not always effective in healthcare settings. Matziou et al. (2014) conducted a study to explore the perceptions of physicians and nurses concerning communication and collaboration. In addition, they investigated the factors that influence the two processes in healthcare organizations. The results of the study revealed that nurse and physicians have different opinions about communication and collaboration when working with patients. The main barrier to an effective relationship between the two professionals is that physicians do not acknowledge the important role of nurses in the care process. As a result, limitations occur in an interprofessional collaboration that might cause medical errors.

Researchers indicate the need to improve communication and collaboration between nurses and physicians to prevent the negative outcome during the treatment process. Matziou et al. (2014) revealed that both nurses and physicians acknowledge the need to improve the relationship between them to improve the quality and safety of care they provide to patients. Tan, Zhou, and Kelly (2017) suggested that although nurse-physician communication remains ineffective, interventions to solve the issue are also limited. Many of the current interventions are aimed at addressing the information needs of the care providers. They are also implemented in particular settings and fail to deal with the interprofessional communication skills necessary to improve working relationships in general healthcare situations. Nurses and physicians have different levels of training and communication abilities that should be considered when implementing interventions to improve their collaboration.

Effective communication between nurses and physicians is critical for quality outcomes in health care processes. Therefore, a breakdown in communication and collaboration is a major cause of negative patient outcomes such as hospital-acquired infections. Interventions are necessary to improve the relationship and protect patients from the negative effects. Furthermore, according to Henkin et al. (2016), hospitals have realized positive outcomes when nurses collaborate with physicians when providing care. Improved perceptions of positive relationships are associated with greater patient outcomes and satisfaction. Therefore, it is necessary to create a system in which nurses are capable of working as a team with physicians.

Education is one of the interventions that can create important changes in the way nurses relate with physicians when providing care. Liaw, Siau, Zhou, and Lau (2014) suggest that initiating positive perceptions and collaborative attitudes enhance effective relationships between the two professions. Their study used an interprofessional simulation-based communication education program to investigate the potential for improved collaboration in improving patient and hospital outcomes. The intervention focused on improving the perceptions of medical and nursing students and enhancing their attitude towards this important aspect of their work. Research reveals the criticality of collaboration between the different professionals to provide optimal care to patients. Therefore, it is necessary for leaders in healthcare settings to understand the importance of and implement effective programs to improve communication and collaboration between nurses and physicians.


The study will use a mixed design by collecting quantitative and qualitative data. It will use a survey and interviews of a sample of 25 nurses and 25 physicians in a healthcare setting. The interviews are important to achieve the first objective of understanding the current level of nurse-physician communication, including barriers to communication from the perspective of the nurses and physicians (Robinson, Gorman, Slimmer, & Yudkowsky, 2010). The survey will be conducted to achieve the objective of analyzing the effectiveness of communication between members of the two professions. It is necessary to use the two methods since the project aims at understanding the participants’ narratives and collecting objective numerical data to design an effective intervention to address the communication issue and improve the quality of care at the hospital. The findings are critical to inform systematic changes in the healthcare setting to eradicate the current barriers and improve nurse-physician communication.


The project will require various resources to achieve its objectives. Some of the necessary resources are a personal computer, printing equipment and materials to create the data collection instruments, the interview schedule, and a questionnaire. Another necessary resource for the project is the internet. Healthcare providers are busy and will respond to the questionnaires at their convenience. Therefore, the researcher will communicate with them mostly through the email, which explains the need for the internet. Besides the email, the researcher will require a telephone to communicate with the participants throughout the project. Financial resources will be necessary to enable movement, especially from the university to the healthcare facility where the research will be conducted.

Formative Evaluation

Evaluation is necessary to establish whether the project is achieving its objectives. Two types of evaluation will be conducted at different points in the project. Formative evaluation is performed to find out whether the project is moving in the right direction towards meeting its goals. Therefore, the evaluation will be conducted throughout the research process. The researcher will evaluate the project after the main milestones. The first formative evaluation will be done after the interviews to establish the current barriers to communication between nurses and physicians (Black, 2010). Another formative evaluation will be performed after the survey to determine the effectiveness of communication. The information collection will inform minor changes in the course of the project. Furthermore, it will provide important data for the summative evaluation.

Summative Evaluation

The assessment of the project is conducted at the end of the project to evaluate whether all the objectives have been met and inform the necessary changes to the entire project. The information is critical to establish the project’s success in solving the issue and implementing necessary interventions (Joffe et al., 2013). The evaluation will be conducted at the end of the project. Particularly, the summative evaluation will be done using data from the interviews and surveys to propose an effective solution to the identified communication issues in the healthcare setting (Joffe et al., 2013). Data from the formative evaluations will make up an important part of the summative evaluation. Therefore, the overall objective is to suggest a significant change that will improve communication skills among the participants to enhance patient care.


The project will be conducted in two months, April and May. The table below shows a detailed timeline of the project.

Task April 1-10 April 11-20 April 21-30 May 1-10 May 11-20 May 21-30
Project planning            
Ethical approval            
Formative evaluation            
Formative evaluation            
Summative evaluation            


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