LPN News

Professional Communication in Nursing

The new module from the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA) explores how Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) can effectively communicate with clients, families, and other members of the healthcare team. The module, Communication in Nursing, supports LPNs in providing safe, competent, and ethical care.

Understanding Regulatory Responsibilities

Nurses must follow legal and ethical standards when providing nursing care. Professional communication falls within the Standards of Practice for LPNs in Canada and the Code of Ethics for LPNs in Canada.

In the Standards of Practice, Standard 4: Professional and Ethical Practice, Indicator 4.5 identifies that LPNs must demonstrate effective, respectful, and collaborative interpersonal communication to promote and contribute to a positive practice culture.

In addition, these are the expectations in the Code of Ethics for LPNs in Canada around professional communication:

  • Principle 2.3.3: Ensure that any discussion/communication (verbal, written, or electronic) is respectful and does not identify the client unless appropriate.
  • Principle 4.2: Collaborate with colleagues in a cooperative, constructive, and respectful manner with the primary goal of providing safe, competent, ethical, and appropriate care to individuals, families and communities.


If an LPN fails to meet standards like the one named above, they can be held accountable through a complaints process. In 2023, the CLPNA investigated thirteen allegations of unprofessional communication.

Unprofessional communication can take many forms. Some examples include:

  • using inappropriate tone or language in front of clients, for example when discussing shift changes or coworker issues;
  • making disrespectful, insensitive, or rude comments about clients and their conditions;
  • discussing private client information where it could be overheard by others; and
  • being careless or inappropriate with wording used in documentation.

What Is Professional Communication?

Effective professional communication is central to the work that LPNs do. LPNs work with clients who require different levels of support. They act as key contacts for families and care partners, collaborate with members of the healthcare team, and engage with the healthcare system at large.

Professional communication covers verbal, written, and non-verbal communication. It is more formal than the communication that takes place between friends or family members. The principles of professional communication are described below.

  • Integrity: being fair and honest.
  • Accountability: taking responsibility for actions, choices, and decisions and being aware of where a conversation is happening (e.g., a client’s room or a private area).
  • Respect: accepting the rights, differences, and perspectives of clients and other healthcare professionals and treating everyone with dignity.
  • Active listening: being attentive and non-judgmental and asking questions to understand.
  • Clear communication: using unbiased, simple, and concise language.
  • Emotional intelligence: understanding and managing your own emotions.
  • Empathy: understanding another person’s perspective and feelings.
  • Collaboration: sharing complete, accurate, and timely information.

Remember that a message can come across differently depending on factors such as tone of voice, volume, pacing, and pitch.

Managing Conflict

LPNs can encounter highly stressful situations as part of their work. Conflict resolution can help prevent and address these situations as they arise.

To manage conflict, you can begin by reflecting on the principles of professional communication described above. Then follow this process.

  1. Identify the issue: identify the root cause of the conflict.
  2. Know your own response to conflict: reflect on how you normally respond to conflict and try to find a collaborative way to resolve the conflict.
  3. Separate the issue from the people: approach the issue objectively and do not target the person.
  4. Stay focused on the issue: understand the issue and create a supportive environment that encourages active listening and honest conversation.
  5. Identify available options: facilitate constructive dialogue to find an agreeable solution. Work towards solutions that address the core problem.
  6. Utilize established standards: follow established procedures to guide decision making and handle conflict.

In some cases, it may be necessary to take a step back to prevent communicating in a reactive and unprofessional manner. Count to 10, try taking deep breaths, and step away from the situation if needed. If it is necessary to step away, connect with the rest of the client’s healthcare team to ensure that they receive care. In these situations, try to reflect on what caused the reaction and how to prevent it in the future.

Learn More About Professional Communication

The Communication in Nursing module will assist LPNs in utilizing effective professional communication in their practice. It covers topics such as:

  • active listening
  • intercultural communication
  • therapeutic communication
  • interprofessional communication
  • conflict resolution
  • leadership and communication
  • crisis communication

Access Module: Communication in Nursing


Contact Professional Development through Ask CLPNA
or call 1-800-661-5877.