For healthcare workers, there is often a tendency to focus on hard skills, or skills directly related to job duties. However, the success of a doctor’s office, hospital, or other healthcare institution often depends on “soft skills,” which are skills related to emotional intelligence, interpersonal communication, social skills, and general attitudes. These skills can help healthcare workers to better serve patient populations and improve the efficiency of the healthcare practice. Below, you will learn about some of the soft skills that are instrumental in developing your career in the health professions.
Soft Skills for Healthcare Leaders: Inspiring Excellence
As many countries in the world work toward healthcare reform, there is an increased focus on what healthcare leaders can do to improve the healthcare system. We will start with healthcare leaders, since they often are instrumental in setting the tone for the rest of a healthcare practice. The Healthcare Leadership Alliance has identified three areas in which soft skills are important for leaders: (1) a focus on ethics and professional standards, (2)facilitating communication between individuals and groups, and (3)leadership and the ability to inspire excellence. These soft skills can then help to foster the following soft skills in other healthcare professionals.
Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Communication
While many may associate the health professions with the hard skills necessary to succeed, anyone who has been in a healthcare profession knows that there is an extensive amount of interpersonal communication needed. Emotional intelligence is an extremely important soft skill to have, as healthcare professionals need to be able to identify a patient’s emotional state, show empathy, and be able to communicate with the patient regardless of the patient’s emotional state.
On a more general level, the best doctors and other healthcare professionals build a rapport with their patients, and emotional intelligence helps in this area. A good rapport can start with a pleasant and welcoming attitude.
Attention to Detail
It may seem as tough this soft skill is important for all professions, but it is arguably especially important for the health professions. Nurses, doctors, and other professionals who manage dosing of medications and other precise measurements need to be able to pay close attention to detail for the well-being of their patients. Additionally, this skill becomes very important in fast-paced environments like the emergency room, where constant activity and distractions can make it difficult to stay focused on the task at hand.
The soft skill of professionalism is a counterweight to emotional intelligence in the sense that a friendly rapport with the patient needs to be balanced with healthy boundaries and a professional attitude. And while it is important to be able to read and respond to a patient’s emotions appropriately, it is equally important to not let emotions and personal connections influence care decisions
In conclusion, whether you are pursuing a career in the healthcare professions or have been in these professions for some time, you likely can benefit from further developing your soft skills. Both these skills and the often more-emphasized hard skills are important in developing connections to patients, as a patient who feels they can trust their healthcare professional is more likely to share more information, which in turn can help lead to a more accurate diagnosis. These soft skills can also help healthcare teams work efficiently and productively together.