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Nurse Leader Rounding: How to Ask Open-Ended Questions
Expert communicators Emily Izzo and Bridgette Maitre share how to ask open-ended questions to encourage conversation and promote meaningful connection.

urse Leader Rounding is a national best practice where inpatient nurse leaders dedicate time to connect daily with patients, caregivers, and teams at the point of care.  

At U of U Health, we build connections one patient at a time and it all begins with a simple conversation. Asking open-ended questions—questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no—encourages conversation and promotes meaningful connection. 

How to ask open-ended questions 

Sometimes the best "questions" are not really questions at all. It can be helpful to use statements, such as, "Tell me how you're feeling right now," or "Talk to me about the surgery you had last week."   

If you have questions that work for you, great—keep asking them. If not, below are a few examples of general and targeted questions. 

Example questions 

Opening questions
  • What are your concerns?
  • Tell me how you are feeling right now.
Consistency of care questions
  • I see your RN and HCA are...have they been responsive to your needs?
  • How was your night?
  • Is there anything else you need?
Safety concerns
  • Do you feel safe?
  • Do you feel well-cared for?
  • Are you getting the care you deserve?
  • Is there anything you're worried about?
Pain management
  • Do you feel like your pain level is ok? Manageable?
  • Are you being kept comfortable?
Care plan
  • Do you understand your plan of care?
  • Talk to me about the procedure/test you had.
  • Are you waiting for anything?
  • Do you feel like you know what is going on?
  • Do you have questions?
  • What do you hope to get back to doing when you leave here?

Questions informed by contributors and Nurse Leader Rounding pilot leaders Shegi Thomas, Sonia Zafra, and Melissa Kanongataa.

The power of follow-up 

Asking follow-up questions is another way to build rapport with your patient—it shows ­­that you are listening and not just checking things off a list. When a patient tells you about a concern they have, ask for more information. A simple “Tell me more about that” or “That’s important. Can you tell me more?” not only conveys listening, but it also helps clarify concerns making resolving any problems easier. 

Connecting with caregivers 

It’s also important to follow-up with your patient’s family members and visitors if they are present. Ask them what questions or concerns they have about their loved one’s care. They might give you crucial information you otherwise wouldn't be able to collect from the patient. 

Learning as a team 

As you begin rounding, reach out to your team to learn what questions they’re asking. Together as leaders, you have a wealth of experience that can help customize your interaction to best suit the needs of your patients. Lean on your team to learn and grow your rounding practice. 



Emily Izzo

Project Administrator, Patient Experience and Accelerate, University of Utah Health

Bridgette Maitre

Strategic Communications Project Administrator, University of Utah Health

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