Chapter 3: Literacies across the disciplines

3.5.3 Nursing literacy (research essay)

Aubrey Richardson

English 102, April 2021


Nursing is a huge role in the world we live in today and will continue to grow as our world grows. Doctors and nurses share the same skills when it comes to literacy practices. So, it is important to know the important skills and tricks that come along with nursing today. Nurses and doctors are here to save people’s lives, and these are some of the most important people in this world. It is important for these skilled professionals to know how to treat their patients differently depending on the situation. So, with more insight on why I have chosen this topic and continued it through the last three essays is very simple. I am majoring in nursing in hopes to gain my masters and work with children. So being a future healthcare professional, I think it is important to me to see all the possibilities and struggles and hard and easy parts to perfecting the basic skills. There are so many different topics in nursing and so many different careers and roads to take with nursing, that is why I think it is so interesting. And not to mention, even with all of these career choices and majors in nursing, all of them have to know the basics first which is what my essay is going to be about. The basic skills of literacy that nurse’s practice on the daily basis that most people probably did not even know about.  

There are so many levels of education that not everyone in the medical field have been taught the same, but these key components are something that must be same across the board. And by key components and skills, I mean communication, reading and writing, but I will mostly talk about communication in this essay. The good, the bad, and the stress, and easy parts of communication. With also a little bit of reading and writing incorporated in this essay as well and how these 2 literacies are practiced. Communication is 100% the value piece that connects nurses and doctors to their patients. With communication and writing in mind, there are multiple disciplines and academic fields interested in the specifics of communication in nursing. These could include: Health care fields in general (doctors, PT, OT, LPN, Oncology, ETC…), Health sciences, Social science, Speech pathology, International studies, Psychology, Education, Psychiatry, Medicine, Other countries including Korea and Nursing and health journals in general. There are so many more, but I picked these because I felt like they best represent my topic of literacy in nursing. These all show the variance and spread and variety of people really like researching on specific aspects of nursing. These fields help show that there are problems with communication, and good assets to communication. Especially the international journals and speech fields, because they can show the positives and negatives to communication with things like language barriers, speech impediments, and being deaf.  

Communication in Nursing (positives & negatives)

The first two research questions I will be discussing are “What are good factor in communication and how are they used in nursing?” and “What are factors that hinder communication between patients, co-workers, and nurses?”. Using this scholarly article “Effective communication in nursing practice: A literature review” by Opeyemi Bello, “Communication skills 2: overcoming the barriers to effective communication” by Nursing Times Journal, and “The importance of effective communication” By the University of St Augustine health science journal. Communication is the key to success in the healthcare field for many reasons but there are also reasons why communication can be affected.  

Good factors of nursing can be a whole range of things from just the way to speak all the way to how you say something and who you say it to. Bello explains in his article many think about communication like “that communication is natural and involuntary” (1). This is so true because when you think about it, from the time you were very young, you have been taught to communicate to someone via talking, writing, or signals. Nurses can construe the feelings of their patients through nonverbal and verbal communications (8). Nurses have a huge impact on the way that their patient’s day goes, how they are feeling, their mood and so much more. It also contributes to the satisfaction of the parent of the patients as well as the patients and other coworkers. In Bello’s article he explains that communication “if used well helps with the provision of clear and accurate information and an easy nursing service providing happiness to both sides” (8). There are 2 parties in communication, the receiving and the giving end. The nurse will be the giver and the patient will be the receiver, most of the time not all the time. This is why nurses have such a major role to play in communication to others. It helps create a strong bond, that way the nurse gets to know the patient well enough after a while, the patient will not need to even communicate verbally to the nurse, the nurse can tell by their nonverbal communication. The nurse and patient communication are so important, the most important thing a patient and nurse can endure. As for the University of St. Augustine article, it has shown that “nurses who take the time to listen and concentrate in what the patient is showing and telling them, it can help address the situation later on” (St Augustine. para. 3). This is so important because when nurses listen instead of trying to block the patient out, they can specify their answer to the patient, instead of generalizing the answer that could apply to anyone. Also, there are multiple effective communication guides which may include “trust, compassion, personal connection, patience, active listening” (para 6). With these traits and keys for effective communication, the most beneficial would-be active listening and personal connections because when you listen, you can actively help them by maybe sharing a similar experience to help build the bond. Bonds are so helpful in communication; this is why ninety-nine percent of the time patients and nurses have like a mother child bond because they get so close.  

As for barriers to communication, this can include multiple things like attitude, being deaf, speaking another language as your first, how something was said, and when. So many minute things can become a huge affecter of communication if not executed correctly. In the St Augustine journal, it is talked about how there can be many classes of communication like “physical barriers, social barriers, and psychological barriers” (para 20-21). Which are all equally as important and came across in the healthcare field. It all comes down to how you want to deal with that situation whether you want to get help or try to figure it out on your own. There are plenty of people who come to the hospital who have a mental health disorder, speak another language, or cannot physically speak, etc. but that is your job as a nurse to deal with that situation to be best of your abilities. In the Nursing Times Journal, it stressed that time is of the essence and that can be a major communication barrier that sometimes cannot be overcome. But with there being some negatives that happen, it is not always good to focus on the negatives that happen in the medical field but sometimes mistakes do happen. Also there are many situations that might hit close to your heart but it is a nurses hob to remain professional and communicate like normal. Often you are put in a sticky situation while being a nurse but that is why you must know when to say something, how to say something, and who to say it to.  

 Reading and Writing in Nursing

For these research questions, I will be discussing “How is reading used in nursing and why is it important?” and “How is writing used in nursing and why is it important?”. I am going to be discussing these and answering them using the scholarly article “Academic Reading and Writing Needs of Undergraduate Nursing Students in Research” by Reynold Padagas and Bonjovi Hajan. And the other scholarly article “The improving competence of nursing student’s ability on writing nursing report” by Ahmad Syafiq. Reading and writing takes some parts of nursing with notes and charts that are created per each patient. Syafiq in his journal explained that in order to perform reading and writing skills to your patient and other staff members, “reading and writing helps improve your English skills to help support their ability to communicate back to patients” (1). You must have a basic understanding of basic skills that you learn in kindergarten like reading and writing because you are constantly writing charts with abbreviations about patients and reading and relaying that information to the patient if need be but mostly relaying that information to other nurses and doctors. Reports and charts are the number one thing that nurses are responsible for creating and catching every fine detail from the patient and writing in into the chart. There were many studies performed trying to show the differences in lower education and higher education and the way that each nurse now uses their communication skills that they were taught (2).  

Now with the Padagas and Hajan article, this is focused on the building blocks for important reading and writing skills by measuring the behavior and effectiveness of the nurses’ actions and the patients’ actions as well (6). Nursing reading and writing calls for much focus and accurate info because these charts are records that stay for as long as that patient is still alive. So, all the information needs to be correct for those future encounters and visits to the hospitals. You wouldn’t want your life to be taken away because the nurse accidentally had sloppy handwriting and nobody could read it, so they just guessed. Or you don’t want one number to be written incorrectly because then that could result in a life-or-death situation. So, another key component is handwriting which goes along with writing but nowadays they have changed a lot of things to technology. So, computers which sometimes makes it harder to keep things correct and easier to make mistakes because your finger can accidentally mis type a word, or you save the wrong file or add the wrong name to the chart. And most times they automatically save and cannot be changed. So, what do you do then? That is why reading, and writing are also important in nursing because it all has to do with numbers, doses, names of patients, names of medications and so much more. With reading and writing being the second major asset of nursing, they are skills that require a lot of practice and a lot of focus and dedication. Because they are very tedious skills that require minimal effort but maximum focus and effort from the nurses to be able to carry out the correct skill when necessary.  

 Differences in Medical field dialect and “Normal English Dialect” 

For this topic, I decided to discuss the research questions “How does medical and nursing dialect differ from normal English dialect?” and I will answer these with the articles, “Medical Terminology vs Plain Language” by Stephanie Buga and “Standard Terminology for Nursing” by Claudia Bartz, Tae Kim, and Dorota Kilanska and Gee’s “What is literacy?”. Medical dialect can be way more difficult to understand and interpret compared to the normal English dialect spoken by everyday people. The words are different, the abbreviations are different, the context is different as well as the mannerisms being different too. In the healthcare field all you are doing are talking in this nurse lingo, this nurse slang that people who are not in the medical field will have a hard time conversating with someone who is using this nursing syntax. This kind of related to Gee’s discourses because everyone has their home language as their primary and for nurses this nurse language would be learned from their secondary discourse. Primary discourse is what is learned when you are at home and secondary is what you learn when not at home (Gee 18-22). Not lots of people get the opportunity to learn this nursing language as a secondary discourse, so this may cause issues when trying to speak to a patient or family using non-medical terms. For example, of how discourses relate to communication in Nursing is with different knowledge and age levels of words and speech. You wouldn’t use highly skilled health care words when talking to a patient or their family because most likely they won’t know what you’re talking about. Those medical terms are learned in your secondary discourse not your primary. Just being aware of who you are speaking to plays a huge role in medical and English dialects.  

Stephanie Buga uses her article to explain the many reasons that the medical terminology is helpful in the fact of speaking to other healthcare professionals (para 1). But she also speaks on when to “use simple language for the comprehension of the receiving end (para 5). That is so important when to know how to switch between your work environment and home environment like use of code switching. Because you are not going to want to talk to a little kid using military time or abbreviations on their restricted meal plan diet when they sometimes have a hard time comprehending normal English sentences. Also, when trying to break the habit of being able to switch between the 2 language patterns, you could practice and put yourself in real world situations that you might come across at home or in the hospital (para 9). Practice makes perfect they always say, so practice these important habits to be the best nurse you possibly can be.  

And as for Bartz, Kim, and Kilanska article, it more focused on how standard terminology is standardized across the board (109). Nurses have to be cautious of the words they are using to describe things. So, they wouldn’t want to use words that dramatize something or make it sound really bad when the patient is already stressed but you also don’t want to say to little so that the patient is sitting here wondering what is going on with them. “ICNP, international classification for nursing practices has been implicated (110). This is a fairly successful way that nurses are used to help see the differences of behavior and word choice in different situations that can occur in the hospital. So, yes people still have troubles when in the medical field for years, with the terminology of the medical field.  

Everyone speaks differently and uses different words, but this nursing language is something that can hinder your performance as a nurse. You wouldn’t want a nurse coming in your room and saying all of these crazy abbreviations and times that you know nothing about because that is going to stress you out even more. So, it is in everyone’s best interest that the nurse knows how to approach and speak to each individual patient. Because all patients are different. Some might understand you if they are older and some might not understand. So yes, these dialects are very different, but they are also very similar at the same time.  

Methods and strategies of communication taught to nursing students 

For this topic, I will be discussing the research question “Are nursing schools using specific methodology and technology for students to help them bring these literacy practices to real life?”. And I will be using the articles “The reading room: Exploring the use of literature as a strategy for integrating threshold concepts into nursing curriculum” by Margaret McAllister, Kathie Lasater, Teresa Stone, and Tracy Levett-Jones and “Strategies for teaching evidence-based practice in nursing education: a thematic literature review” by May Horntvedt, Anita Nordsteien, Torbjorg Fermann, and Elisabeth Severinsson. There have been so many strategies for communication and skills to be a nurse that have been taught over many years but recently they have been getting into more real-world practices in the classroom to help with better communication skills when it comes time to start their jobs. Lots of people who are new to the medical field life are blindsided by how different school practice is and the real hospital. In May Horntvedt, Anita Nordsteien, Torbjorg Fermann, and Elisabeth Severinsson article it talks about “EVP which is evidence-based practice that uses specific applications and sources to help with a smooth transition into the hospital (1)”. This practice uses many in person hands on material that really helps you get the feel for what to expect in the hospital. It is very interactive and allows students to work together ad figure out the problems and situations provided using models and mannequins (3). It has helped a lot because it can really make or break you, if you want to stay in this career or not. EVP would be classes, internships, residency, field trips, labs, and jobs. Because all of those are real practices that involve you to think outside the box.  

As for Margaret McAllister, Kathie Lasater, Teresa Stone, and Tracy Levett-Jones article, it is more based around self-examination and the skills you can uphold in the position (549). Which is so true because as a medical professional, you have to be accountable for all of the actions you make, whether that be a positive or negative action. So, when being a nurse you need to be able to reflect on your own actions and see what you did right or wrong in specific situations. It has also been researched that Transformative learning has helped create new roads for education. TL involves “puzzles that can be solved and unsolved and is made to create critical thinkers (550)”. Critical thinking and a base knowledge will help you so much over the course of trying to learn everything about nursing. That is why they are using these new teaching forms because other forms for teaching communication strategies have failed in the past. So, research has had to be mad to reupholster these teaching style to have more successful rates 

Tied all together – why are literacy practices important?

These topics are important because they help a nurse be who a nurse is and these skills help with work life as well as home life too because some of these skills can be passed between home and work. Your patients will always be a part of your life no matter what. And all of these things can show your responsibility and courage of being a healthcare worker. You communicate with your patients that way they can understand you and start to trust you. They are trusting you with their life, so you can pay them back by giving them the best care and service possible. These literacy practices also help you so that you know your patient is always being thought of and incorporated in the decisions being made. You should always be making sure you have your notes and listening, and communication skills turned all the way up when entering a patient’s room. Reading and writing skills can always use some work just when in the medical field you are expected to perform very highly, that is why there are so many years of schooling and working and practice. Because once you enter that field, you are kind of all alone. So that is why it is important to research and know all of this base knowledge so nurses know what to prep for before entering the workforce. And also, all of this pre research prep can help because it shows the interest and want to gain knowledge on all of this information. You are gaining so much knowledge when in school and out of school, so to have the basics of nursing down in the back of your head, it will be smooth sailing from then on.  


In conclusion, communication in nursing is vital for all aspects not just in the nursing field. Communication for nurses, doctors, or anyone in the medical field is important as well as well as reading and writing. It helps you connect to the patients so they can feel a sense of compassion while trying to get better and feel a burst of happiness again. It also helps you gain insight on how the patient and family feel as well as learning new day to day skills. It can show you how you may have to speak to people in different settings and the ways you can speak to people in a correct or incorrect manor. Communication in nursing can also teach you about thinking before you speak, and communication can be helpful in your learning process as well as your patients. As far as reading and writing in nursing, these are key components as well because they are specifics to ways of communication. Reading is a way for nurses to communicate to doctors and other staff and writing is a way for nurses to communicate via notes and messages to nurses and doctors and other medical professionals that work in the hospital. Overall, literacy is used all throughout the medical field and not a lot of people know that. These aspects are 50/50 because there is reading, writing, and communication is one half and then actually taking care of the patients and using precautions is another half. There is so many positive and negatives to communication but with the medical field, there isn’t a lot of room for error in communication. Having information and tips and tricks under your belt will help form into the nurse you want to be with communication skills 10/10, reading and writing a 10/10 too.  

Works Cited


Bello, O. (2017). Effective communication in nursing practice: A literature review.  

 Padagas, R. C., & Hajan, B. H. (2020). Academic Reading and Writing Needs of Undergraduate Nursing Students in Research. Online Submission, 19(5), 318-335.  

 Syafiq, A. N. THE IMPROVING COMPETENCE OF NURSING STUDENTS’ABILITY ON WRITING NURSING REPORT: Case Study on the Fifth Semester of S1 Nursing Students of STIKES Muhammadiyah Kudus.  

 Bartz, C. C., Kim, T. Y., & Kilańska, D. M. (2017). Standard terminology for nursing. Problemy Pielęgniarstwa, 25(2), 108-111.  

 Horntvedt, M. E. T., Nordsteien, A., Fermann, T., & Severinsson, E. (2018). Strategies for teaching evidence-based practice in nursing education: a thematic literature review. BMC medical education, 18(1), 1-11.  

 Gee, James Paul. “What is Literacy?” In Negotiating Academic Literacies: Teaching and Learning Across Languages and Cultures. Ed. Vivian Zamel and Ruth Spack. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1998. 51-59 


 McAllister, M., Lasater, K., Stone, T. E., & Levett-Jones, T. (2015). The reading room: Exploring the use of literature as a strategy for integrating threshold concepts into nursing curricula. Nurse education in practice, 15(6), 549-555.  


Contributor, N. (2019, August 05). Communication skills 2: Overcoming the barriers to effective communication. Retrieved March 16, 2021, from,%2C%20pain%20and%2For%20anxiety.  

 The importance of effective communication in nursing. (2020, November 12). Retrieved March 16, 2021, from  

 Fareeda DaL 03/29/2020 at 4:13 AM – Reply. (2020, July 31). Medical terminology vs. plain language. Retrieved March 16, 2021, from  


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