Communication and Delegation in Nursing


Communication and Delegation
1. Describe a time when you experienced a communication breakdown and with whom.
A. What was the situation? 
B. What style of communication was used: assertive, aggressive, passive/aggressive, passive?
C. What environmental, biological, or personal or cultural issues may have impacted the communication process (e.g. stereotypes, biases, difference in values, preferences, gender, race and age)?
D. What efforts were made to improve the communication? Were the efforts effective? If not, what other strategies might have been used to improve the communication outcome?
2. Describe an example of effective (or ineffective) nursing delegation. What delegation principles were (or were not) followed? What can be learned from this example?

*Apply concepts from the reading. Cite all references.


Communication and Delegation in Nursing

            In my operations as a patient care technician, I once experienced a communication breakdown with a fellow employee due to a misunderstanding regarding the instructions given. This particular employee was a new addition to the team having only joined the hospital earlier that month. I had instructed this medical assistant to calculate a patient’s inputs and outputs and to input, the patient’s vitalsin his file then deliver the file back to me for assessment. After an inquisition as to why she had failed to do this, she told me that she assumed that I was issuing the directive to another medical assistant whom she was standing next to at the time when I issued the instruction. In my communication with the medical assistant, I had issued my request assertively and clearly but her later response was filled with passive-aggressive connotations as she did not hesitate to state that she was only new and so such mistakes should easily be forgiven.


This communication process might have been impacted by environmental issues such as differences in values and stereotypes (Sheldon, Barrett & Ellington, 2006). Since the employee in question was new, she might not have adjusted to our organization’s culture of respect and teamwork. She might also have had a stereotypical view ofpatient care technicians as people by assuming that they were people whom she could easily ignore. In order to improve the communication and possibly repair the relationship with the nurse, I decided to give my request in writing as a memo addressed to her and pinned it up at a noticeboard in the common staff area. This move was very effective as the medical assistant in question promptly input the vitals and calculated the inputs and outputs as requested and presented them back to me within a day.

Delegation in nursing refers to a situation where a manager, leader or a superior assigns nursing duties and responsibilities to subordinate staff to work on his or her behalf (Riley, 2015; Burbach, 1994). An effective act of delegation can include a case where nurses have been assigned to take over the nursing operations of a hospital or healthcare facility in the absence of the chief nursing officer. The delegation principles that were followed in my example include exact determination of the tasks to be delegated as well as the choice of the right person with the necessary qualifications to execute them.


Burbach, V. (1994). Delegation in nursing. Issues (National Council of State Boards of Nursing (US)15(3), 7-11.

Riley, J. B. (2015). Communication in nursing. New York, NY: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Sheldon, L. K., Barrett, R., & Ellington, L. (2006). Difficult communication in nursing. Journal of Nursing Scholarship38(2), 141-147.

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