Characteristics of Professionalism in Healthcare

Staff Writer
Mar 24, 2022

Top 4 Soft Skills Every Healthcare Professional Should Have

Some personality traits, like respect, patience, and punctuality are valuable skills at work and in life. And other traits, like inflexible thinking and emotional whimsy, make any job harder.

Healthcare is different. A very specific personality profile seems to shine brightest.

It’s not for everyone. People who have specific personality traits see the most success — and personal fulfillment — in a healthcare career track. Read on to see if you recognize these traits in yourself. A little self-assessment can help you set yourself up for success.

1. Great Communication Skills

Great communication is always in style, but especially in healthcare, where communication is a matter of life and death. We recommend that students in all program tracks prioritize communication skills.

Active Listening

Ironically, the most important part of communicating is silent. Focus on what the other person is saying, and don’t begin thinking about your response until they’re done speaking.

Ask Thoughtful Questions

Asking questions demonstrates that you’re interested in what the other person has to say, it keeps both parties engaged, and — especially important in healthcare — asking questions ensures there’s no misunderstanding.

Keep Your Audience in Mind

In healthcare, you may have to deliver news that your patient doesn’t want to hear. If you’re rescheduling an appointment, remember that it might be a real inconvenience for the patient, and you can understand their irritation. If you’re asking a patient to do exercises that cause discomfort or prescribing an expensive medication, push-back might be understandable. Keep your patient’s situation in mind as you communicate with them.

2. Empathy and Emotional Intelligence

You chose a healthcare career because you want to help others — so you’re probably already very empathetic!

What is clinical empathy? The Society for General Internal Medicine defines empathy as “the act of correctly acknowledging the emotional state of another without experiencing that state oneself.”

It’s easy to see why empathy is important in a hospital or other facility where people are injured or suffering. But it’s the latter part of the definition that may be of more concern: Nurses and other healthcare workers don’t experience the patient’s state themselves, and so must keep an emotional distance.

Emotional stability is your ability to stay calm under pressure. It is the other part of being empathetic: understanding the other person’s emotions without being personally affected.

As a nurse or other healthcare worker, you’ll care for people who are in great pain, or whose loved one is suffering — or worse. Your patients will appreciate your empathy, kindness, and emotional stability.

3. Detail Oriented

You’ve heard the saying “the devil is in the details.” The best-laid plans fall to pieces when unexpected details get in the way. Paying close attention to details is important in every job, but it’s critical in healthcare when lives are on the line.

For dental lab technicians, the job is comprised of details! If a replacement crown is even of a fraction of a millimeter too large or small, it will cause the patient severe pain — and cost the dentist and the lab money to redo the dental implant.

From coloration to sculpting and sanding, a DLT’s job is focused on details. And from the lab to the front office, the system only works if accuracy is a priority.

4. Adaptable

Happy healthcare workers are adaptable healthcare workers. Of course family obligations, holidays, weather, and a host of other factors we can’t control determine our ability to be flexible.

The unpredictability of many a nurse’s schedule comes with the territory. If you get upset when you can’t plan months in advance or have to work a holiday, healthcare might not be the best career for you.

But adaptability is also a mindset.

Being adaptable means considering all the options. It’s understanding that what you have in mind is not the only possibility. Flexible thinking is one of the keys to finding fulfillment as a healthcare professional, and it’s key to being great at your job. Flexible thinkers consider different diagnoses and solutions for their patients, which lead to better patient outcomes.

If you think of things in terms of having only right or wrong answers, your inflexible thinking might prevent you from being successful. The truth is, anyone with a quick mind and a big heart has a place in healthcare. If you think you belong here, you probably do.


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