July 23, 2019
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5 Character Traits Needed to Work in Public Health

Public Health Workers: Essential Character Traits

  • Empathy
  • Friendliness
  • Strong Ethical Values
  • Responsibility
  • Motivation

One thing that many people often ponder when considering becoming public health workers is what types of character traits are needed to work in the field of public health. Public health careers are demanding positions that require a great eye for detail. And because of this, there are several character traits that can help public health workers succeed. Five of the most important of these traits are discussed briefly in the sections that follow.

Related resource: Top 20 Graduate Programs in Health Care Management in the South

1. Empathy

Perhaps the most important character trait needed to work in public health is empathy. Persons visiting medical facilities such as public health centers are often overwhelmed with feelings of confusion, anxiety, and even fear. This can be especially true for children, the elderly, and those individuals who have been diagnosed with serious health issues. For this reason, it is essential that persons working in public health are empathetic regardless of the situations they may encounter. They must strive to see their patients’ side of the situation in order to ease their anxiety and fears.

2. Friendliness

Another character trait that is necessary for working in public health is friendliness. This trait goes hand-in-hand with empathy. Too many public health workers today tend to view their patients in terms of file numbers treating them rather coldly and with little to no regard for their patients’ feelings. A smile and a friendly conversation about something other than the reason for their patients’ visits can go a long way in reducing patients’ anxiety and fear. Making an effort to be friendly can also help reduce job stress for public health workers, themselves.

3. Strong Ethical Values

Possession of strong ethical values is also among the five character traits required to work in public health. All public health workers must comply with a variety of ethical standards as set by the American Medical Association. Ethical standards in public healthcare focus mainly on promoting effective and efficient healthcare services to patients by eliminating the possibility of errors made by healthcare professionals. Ethical standards also focus on protecting patients’ personal and sensitive information by setting standards relating to data storage, retrieval, and transfer.

4. Responsibility

Responsibility is another important character trait of public health workers. Employers of public health workers must be able to depend on their staff to show up for work on time and on the days that they are scheduled. When public health workers miss work or are late for work, the work burden of other staff members increases. Not only can this lead to job burnout in overworked employees, but it can also lead to inferior service. And due to the nature of the field, inferior service in any medical facility is never acceptable no matter the circumstances.

5. Motivation

Another extremely important character trait needed to work in public health is motivation. Even if public health workers show up for work on time and every day they are scheduled to work, if they are not motivated to complete their required tasks, patients, as well as the facility, will suffer. This is most often a fast-paced field that requires both speedy service and attention to detail. While these two requirements can be difficult for some people to achieve, they are crucial for people who choose to work in public health careers.

Just as with many other health-related professionals, persons who choose to work in public health will need several unique character traits to be successful in their careers. Five of these all-important traits are discussed above and include empathy, friendliness, strong ethical values, responsibility, and motivation.