Any profession that is based around dealing with individual members of the public requires certain 'soft skills' to go alongside more job-specific training. A career in healthcare where connections are made with patients or clients on a case by case basis needs workers to have a personal skill set that reflects far more than medical or clinical knowledge. These vital 'extras' can be based on innate natural talents and abilities or can be learned behaviour, but either way recognising the importance of these soft skills is a key element for having a successful healthcare career.
To be an empathic person means being able to put yourself in someone else's position and try to look at the world through their eyes and understand the experience they are going through. Essentially it is the single most important thing that keeps healthcare workers grounded and allows them to remember that every case is different and people need to be treated as individuals.
Having empathy is something that comes naturally to many people but it can be taught too. Without it, a healthcare worker is in danger of falling into the trap of forgetting that everyone reacts in different ways and needs a personalised approach to help them get the most out of their treatment and do the best to help themselves.
Building trust between healthcare professionals and patients is essential for the smooth running of services and achieving best outcomes. Coming into contact with people from every strata of society means that being able to create and maintain relationships with patients of all ages and from all types of backgrounds is a skill that is invaluable. Not only does a basis of trust help a patient feel more relaxed and confident, it also mitigates the chances of disruptive or non-cooperative behaviour which can cause unnecessary risks or limit the chances of getting successful results.
The two soft skills mentioned above are basic requirements, but neither can be put into practice without truly being able to listen to what a patient has to say. Whether it is talking about their concerns or giving valuable information about their condition, being able to actually hear and understand what someone is saying is an essential skill for a healthcare worker to have. Sometimes this can be difficult due to complications through illness or cultural and language differences, but in the vast majority of cases, it simply involves taking the time and making the effort to make yourself available to hear what others have to say for themselves.