5 Essential Skills For A Career In Healthcare

by
Bhairavi KS
April 30, 2021

Career growth isn’t a result, but a continuous process of learning, honing your existing skills and expanding your skillset. The healthcare sector is no exception to this reality. Healthcare organizations today are increasingly paying attention to the soft skills on your resume rather than getting carried away by your academic credentials alone. 

To thrive as a business, healthcare organizations find it necessary to ensure that their workforce has a rich mix of clinical and soft skills. Reason? Because patients always tend to remember hospitals for how they made them feel through their illness, which in turn affects hospital ratings. 

In this article, we shed light on five essential health care skills that medical professionals need to work on to succeed in their careers.

Empathy

Despite the lack of research into the impact of empathy on the effectiveness of patient care, empathy is considered to play a vital role in enhancing treatment outcomes. On the one hand, empathetic clinicians find it easier to – 

  • Connect with their patients.
  • Initiate meaningful conversations about their situation.
  • Gain a holistic understanding of the patient’s condition.
  • Secure better patient cooperation.
  • Equip patients to deal with their environments better.
  • Resolve problems faster.   

On the other hand, consulting an empathetic clinician helps patients – 

  • Trust the medical process.
  • Communicate their problems better.
  • Take ownership of their health.

Empathy is one of the much-needed skills for healthcare professionals who are not required to face patients as well. A compassionate hospital administration staff, for example, is more likely to speed up patient waiting time and simplify the process of paying complicated medical bills, thereby upholding the brand identity of their healthcare organization.

Stress Management

Stress Management is easily the most under-rated skill among healthcare professionals. Most practitioners are so busy saving lives that they can hardly afford time for themselves. This inadvertently leads to exhaustion and lack of interest in work – in short, burnout. As a healthcare professional, it is essential to develop the art of managing stress effectively in yourself and your team.

Open Mindset

It helps to have an open mindset at work. Healthcare is a highly dynamic field where even the best players from top-notch universities can suffer from knowledge gaps. A positive attitude and the willingness to listen rather than tell can strengthen your relationship with your patients and improve the quality of care provided to them. 

Communication Skills

In a healthcare environment, communication must be bi-directional between patients and healthcare professionals to be effective. There are two dimensions that healthcare professionals need to focus on to ensure smooth and effective communication with patients. These include:

  • Healthcare Literacy – For any care delivery to be successful, patients must understand the context and concepts of the communication they receive. However, not all patients may grasp such information in one sitting due to their social background or the high entry barrier to the medical knowledge base. The onus of ensuring that patients comprehend their condition and the way forward lies on the medical fraternity. Every staff member working with patients must provide them with a clear picture of healthcare matters by following communication strategies such as:
  1. Greeting them with a smile.
  2. Maintaining eye-contact.
  3. Active listening.
  4. Paying attention to the patient’s body language.
  5. Avoiding medical jargon and using simple language instead.
  6. Talking slowly and clearly.
  7. Using images, when necessary and appropriate, to get the point across.
  8. Encouraging patients to ask questions.
  9. Confirming that patients understood the communication by asking them to teach back what was conveyed to them.
  • Language and Cultural Competency – Several studies have cited that ethnic minorities are more likely to be unhappy about their care and perceive discrimination from staff based on their ethnicity or fluency in English. Also, elderly patients from ethnic minority backgrounds tend not to interact with clinicians, resulting in the denial of opportunity to decide for themselves actively.

Besides, healthcare professionals tend to assume that patients from these communities have low health literacy due to their inability to connect with them at the cultural and linguistic levels. On the contrary, ethnic minority patients who consulted physicians with broader social abilities reported higher satisfaction with the care they received. Given the minimal systemic checks in place to assess linguistic and cultural concerns, clinicians must keep themselves informed and updated on these aspects.  

Time Management

While time management is a critical skill that holds weight across career lines, it carries grave significance in the healthcare sector. Why? Because lives are on the line. Since healthcare professionals can have hectic days, they must prioritize multiple tasks that are coming their way. Effective time management increases your efficiency as a healthcare professional and improves someone’s chances of survival. 

The first step to improving your skills in healthcare is to assess where you currently stand. An honest SWOT analysis can help you understand the areas that need immediate attention. In addition to enrolling in courses to gain specific skills, you could also teach yourself best practices by staying alert and observing your seniors' work. Remember that it all starts with YOU.  

 


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