Soft Skills for Healthcare Professionals: The Importance of Interpersonal Communication.
People throughout the world are living longer, healthier lives. A major factor in this increase is due to advancements within the healthcare industry itself– better medications, safer procedures, more surgeries…the list goes on and on. But what about those who are working behind-the-scenes at hospitals? Those who are still making major contributions to the healthcare industry that impact patients on a daily basis? It’s these individuals who are largely responsible for the success of numerous procedures, patient recoveries, and many other aspects of modern healthcare. Yet despite their crucial role within this industry, they’re often overlooked when it comes to highlighting influential people in health care.
If you guessed nurses, you’d be right.
Since the beginning of time, nurses have been recognized for their work ethic and dedication to patients. They’re often considered “angels in white” who are always willing to help others in need. However, the part of nursing that’s often overlooked is what makes them special– their interpersonal communication skills.
With all of the technology available to nurses today, it’s sometimes easy for their interpersonal communication skills to take a backseat. After all, there are now electronic medical records, texts, charts…so many ways to communicate with physicians and patients without ever having an actual face-to-face conversation. But what about those who are still handwriting everything in their charts? Do they have it made, or just lucked out because doctors aren’t present in their rooms 24/7?
Of course not.
While there are certain roles within the medical industry where you won’t need to be extraordinary with your interpersonal skills, many other positions still demand them. For example, physician assistant (PA) can be one of the most lucrative careers in health care. The role allows you to work directly under doctors, treating patients and assisting them in surgeries while still receiving a full day’s pay for 12 hours (and sometimes less) worth of work. What’s more is that PA salaries are expected to rise almost 30% in the next 5 years alone– that’s a lot of money for not a lot of work.
But with all that said, what’s the secret to finding success in this industry? How are PAs able to make so much money without sacrificing their life outside of work or sacrificing their health while on the job? It’s simple– it all has to do with interpersonal communication skills.
It should be noted that it’s not just nurses and physician assistants who need to master their interpersonal communication skills– it applies to anyone within this industry. If you’re a radiology technician, anesthesiologists, respiratory therapists…the list goes on and on and on. Even so, here are some tips for mastering your communication skills in the medical industry:
· Listen carefully to your patients and avoid distractions, such as your smartphone or pager. Try to eliminate any potential noise in the room (turn off the television if possible) and make sure you’re giving someone your complete attention.
· Since verbal communication is crucial for this field, try not to use abbreviations (such as “ASAP”) or acronyms (like “RUOK?”) unless absolutely necessary. Not only could this frustrate someone who doesn’t understand the language you’re using, but it can also leave your patients feeling uneasy– especially if they don’t know how to respond in kind.
· Show your patients that you’re willing to go the extra mile for them by taking notes during their appointments. Whether it’s in a chart or on paper, make sure they know that what they have to say means something to you– even if you can’t take all of their information right away.
· When providing care for your patients, never lose sight of the fact that you have a duty to report them accurately. Not only will this help to prevent any misdiagnoses or mistreatment, but it can also save time for both you and your patient in the long run…and trust us when we say that no one wants to be misdiagnosed!
· As you’re conducting your daily duties, always remember that you never know who’s watching. Whether it’s a patient or their family member, someone is always taking note of how well you communicate with others. So even if you have completed 50 other tasks, don’t slack on communicating appropriately– especially not in front of patients!
So what are some examples of the soft skills healthcare professionals need?
- Empathy – Empathy is a crucial interpersonal skill that we can all work on. In the healthcare sector, you must be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes in order to better understand their problems.
- Professionalism – The phrase “professionalism” is frequently associated with a cold, distant, brusque individual in a nondescript navy blue suit. In truth, many individuals believe that to be “professional” means exhibiting the opposite of empathy and emotional intelligence! However, professionalism is a crucial soft skill, and it doesn’t necessitate being phony, remote, or uncaring. Professionalism is simply the ability to handle yourself responsibly, honestly, responsibly, and well.
- Communication Skills – Being able to communicate well with patients and colleagues is vital. Communication is the most important for many people when asked about soft skills examples for healthcare professionals, because all other soft skills are built on the ability to communicate clearly and professionally.
- Be a Team Player – In most healthcare environments, you’ll almost certainly need to collaborate with others. Creating teams that can do what needs to be done in the most effective and precise manner might be difficult, especially when combining team members with different skill sets.
- Dealing With Pressure & stress – Pressure is a reality of many healthcare professions; you have to be able to deal with it and thrive on it. All of our lives, good and bad stress are a continual influence. The key is to maximize the good stress while minimizing the negative stress. We’ll look at how stress may be positive or negative, as well as the Triple A approach that maximizes the positive aspects.
- Honesty & Integrity – Being honest and trustworthy is necessary in some healthcare fields, like one involving medical equipment (such as an audiologist). If you break safety regulations by not declaring new or replacement parts of equipment, you could put your patients at risk. However, many people who work in healthcare often cover up or downplay their mistakes out of a sense of loyalty to the profession. That’s never a good idea – healthcare needs honesty and integrity more than anything else!
- Humility & Respect – In some healthcare professions, such as those involving interaction with others (such as mental health) showing humility and respect for others is crucial. While you might be used to talking down to people in your everyday life, you must maintain a certain level of humility when dealing with patients. If you lose your temper or act out in any way, that can affect patient recovery!
- Strong Work Ethic – You will often have to go ‘above & beyond’ in the care and service of others – many healthcare careers are not social friendly roles. a strong work ethic helps you build strong relationships with team mates and superiors. A solid work ethic also helps you find reward in the work you do, and shows a dedication not just to goals and outcomes but to your overall professional development.
- Positive Mental Attitude – One of the most effective methods to boost your productivity and workplace happiness is to adopt a good attitude. Those who have a consistently positive attitude are perceived as friendly, allowing them to form more successful workplace connections. A strong and optimistic mindset also serves you well when difficulties or disappointments strike; it builds resilience.
- Adaptability and Flexibility – Is it possible for you to work a second shift? Is there any way that I can stay even later? These are not 9-to-5 professional positions. Adaptability and flexibility are two of the most crucial abilities you can have. Some individuals believe that the ability to adjust according to demands or willingness to compromise demonstrates a lack of conviction. In reality, the ability to adapt in order to meet new challenges and needs, as well as the capacity to compromise and adapt on command are essential for success in today’s fast-paced workplaces. Change might be frightening at first, but learning how to alter and adjust as needed is a smart investment.
- Time Management – It’s essential in every profession, but your timeliness may literally determine your life. We all have the same amount of hours in a day, so why are some people able to do so much more? It’s important to be able to manage your time well. You may not be able to create more time in your day, but learning how to use time management can help you get the most out of what you have!
- Self-Confidence – When it comes to advertising your nursing expertise, most individuals want to believe they’re being looked after by a professional. Because no one wants to think they’re being cared for by a novice, you must exude self-assurance in your abilities, no matter how inexperienced you are. Self-confidence is crucial in our every day lives. Confidence allows us to set and achieve our objectives. It provides stability when we’re faced with a problem; it gives us the push we need to conquer problems. Self-confidence is critical in both our personal and professional lives since it allows us to be successful in both. It empowers us to confront our problems head-on and to get back on our feet when we fall. Understanding the fundamentals is crucial before getting into how to improve self-confidence.
- Dealing With Criticism – You don’t know it all, and things in healthcare are always changing. You must be able to accept and learn from criticism if you want to grow as a professional or person. Criticism is universally disliked, but learning from it is essential for professional and personal growth. Learning to accept and learn from criticism is an investment in yourself that will pay off. The capacity to listen to and accept criticism is a key component of self-confidence. It also shows that you value what others have to say, which helps develop a sense that you are committed to what you do and your own growth.