Communication Competency

What is the Interprofessional Communication Competency?

Interprofessional Communication: Communicate with patients, families, communities, and other health professionals in a responsive and responsible manner that supports a team approach to the maintenance of health and the treatment of disease.   

Interprofessional Communication Behavioral Expectations:

  • Choose effective communication tools and techniques, including information systems and communication technologies, to facilitate discussions and interactions that enhance team function.
  • Organize and communicate information with patients, families, and healthcare team members in a form that is understandable, avoiding discipline-specific terminology when possible.
  • Express one’s knowledge and opinions to team members involved in patient care with confidence, clarity, & respect, working to ensure common understanding of information, treatment & care decisions.
  • Listen actively, and encourage ideas and opinions of other team members.
  • Give timely, sensitive, instructive feedback to others about their performance on the team, responding respectfully as a team member to feedback from others.
  • Use respectful language appropriate for a given difficult situation, crucial conversation, or interprofessional conflict.
  • Recognize how one’s own uniqueness, including experience level, expertise, culture, power, and hierarchy within the healthcare team, contributes to effective communication, conflict resolution, and positive interprofessional working relationships (University of Toronto, 2008).
  • Communicate consistently the importance of teamwork in patient-centered & community-focused care.

Learning Objectives:

We will address the Communication Competencies through the TeamSTEPPS® program.  Specifically, this module will address the Communication and Situational Monitoring pillars of TeamSTEPPS.

Upon completion of the online module, you will be able to:

  1. Describe what is TeamSTEPPS.
  2. Describe interprofessional communication techniques.
  3. Describe situational monitoring techniques.

Upon completion of the simulation module, which includes on-line case analyses, you will be able to:

  1. Identify good and poor communication and situational monitoring techniques.


Ice Breaker Exercise

Ice Breaker Exercise

Let's begin with an exercise in communicating in a team:

Creating a paper chain: divide into groups of 4-5 with each group given 5 sheets of paper, one pair of scissors, and tape. Over 2 minutes, each group will create a paper chain. The group with the longest chain wins.


  1. How did your group work together?
  2. How did your group communicate?
  3. Was there a difference in how each group functioned?


Introduction to TeamSTEPPS®


The Department of Defense and the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) developed a program to help create high performing teams. This program is called TeamSTEPPS®.

Introduction to TeamSTEPPS:

The AHRQ created several educational modules to teach TeamSTEPPS. Each educational program is designed for a different practice site. This module uses many of the educational materials provided by AHRQ. The following is a brief introduction to TeamSTEPPS.    TeamSTEPPS Overview Presentation

AHRQ also offers an on-line course in TeamSTEPPS for create change teams within a primary care practice. Change teams are key individuals within a primary care setting responsible for implementing TeamSTEPPS within that organization. The following link is that on-line course for the change team.  TeamSTEPPS for Office-Based Care Online Course (AHRQ)


TeamSTEPPS® Communication Pillar

TeamSTEPPS Communication Pillar (AHRQ)

Watch this video, which is a fun way to understand the problems with communication: Learn English...

Click on this link to learn about the TeamSTEPPS communication pillar:  TeamSTEPPS Communication Pillar Presentation

View the first section (called "Late Reception") of the following AHRQ video, Poor Teamwork in the Medical Office and identify communication problems.

After watching the video, consider the following:

  1. What are the communication issues?
  2. How would you do this differently to improve communication?

View the following video, Good Teamwork in the Medical Office, describing good communication strategies.

Do you agree with how this was handled? What other options would improve communication.

Skill building activity for Communication pillar:

Supplies: envelopes, index cards. Write one problem on the index card and place in envelope. Prepare enough envelopes for participant pairs.

In pairs…hand out problems randomly and have one person perform an SBAR and the other to critique. Here are suggested problems:

  • Think of a time when your car didn’t start and needed to get into work. You are calling mechanic.
  • Think of a time when you overspent this month and you are talking with your significant other about how we will pay bills this month.
  • Think of a time when your child is sick and you need to go to work. You are calling a family member for help.
  • Think of a time when you were struggling in school/academic setting and could not hand in an assignment. You are talking with your professor or boss.
  • Think of a time when a friend had a baby and you are sharing the news with a mutual friend.


TeamSTEPPS® Situational Monitoring Pillar

TeamSTEPPS Situational Monitoring Pillar

Watch this video, which is a fun way to understand what is situational monitoring.  How to Push a Car...

Click to learn about the TeamSTEPPS situational monitoring pillar: TeamSTEPPS Situational Monitoring Pillar Presentation

View the last section, "Late morning," of the following video (AHRQ) and identify situational monitoring problems. Poor Teamwork in the Medical Office

After watching the video, consider the following:

  1. What are the situational monitoring issues?
  2. How would you do this differently to improve situational monitoring?

View the following video describing good situational monitoring strategies. Do you agree with how this was handled? What other options would improve situational monitoring?  Situation Monitoring: Good Teamwork in the Medical Office

Skill Building Activity for Situational Monitoring:

Participant pairs are back to back. One is given a picture. The other is given paper and crayons. The one with the picture describes the picture and the other draws it. Compare the two.