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5 non-clinical skills health care workers need today

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Technology has changed the skills and procedures health care workers must master, and it has also changed the non-clinical skills one must possess to succeed in the field.

“There was a time when non-clinical skills were not considered a necessary component of good patient care,” says Barbara Bergin, an orthopedic surgeon with Texas Orthopedics, Sports and Rehabilitation Associates in Austin “If your doctor was short-tempered and brusque, it was simply expected and tolerated,”. But now, with social media, patient experience surveying and our heightened awareness of bad behavior and intolerance for bullying, physicians are being held accountable for the quality of their care, and that includes their behavior.”

These are five non-clinical skills that people in the medical field need to master.

Learning to listen

Being able to listen carefully to your patients and co-workers is a must.

“In this day and age of computerized information, this is particularly difficult,” Bergin says. Medical staff using computer templates are forced to look at the screen constantly, and they may appear distracted even if they aren’t.

Make it a point to direct your attention away from the screen. After all, to correctly diagnose and treat patients, you must listen to what they say and make them feel comfortable enough to tell you the whole story.

“Make as much eye contact with the patient and their family members as possible,” Bergin says. “Let them talk for a little while. If they don’t want to talk, then prompt them with an open-ended question.”

Most patients want to talk, so you should encourage them to do so. Take advantage of your sense of humor when appropriate. “Sharing a smile or even a belly laugh with a patient goes a long way,” she says

Showing you care

You might already care about your patients, but you need to be able to communicate that, regardless of how hectic or stressful your day is.

“All physicians care,” Bergin says. “We care about our outcomes at the minimum, but we must also appear to care about more than an outcome. We must care about our patients’ well-being.”

Bergin suggests reminding yourself to treat every patient like he or she is a member of your family and encouraging colleagues to do the same. Everyone who contacts the patient, from check-in to check-out, should ask themselves if they met that standard.

Working as a team

Successful health care professionals know the importance of working well with others.

“As health care providers, we never work in isolation,” says Edna Ma, a physician anesthesiologist in Los Angeles. A single patient may interact with multiple physicians, nurses and other staff members, making it critical to patient safety and health care delivery that information flows smoothly.

“Being a good team player involves respecting everyone on the team regardless of rank or title, and listening to others,” she says. “Patients’ lives are at stake if teamwork and communication break down.”

In the operating room, for example, all members of the team serve important roles, and they must communicate about it clearly. A “time out” or “surgical pause” is performed before every surgery so everyone on the team can introduce themselves. This increases the likelihood that someone will speak up, even to a surgeon, if they notice a problem, she adds.

Managing your time

Running late and appearing rushed are two big patient complaints about doctors, Bergin says. “We are often running late, and we are often rushed.”

Health care workers have to spend more and more time entering data and documenting activities of patients, which eats into the time available to spend with the patient. Bergin suggests getting as efficient as possible with your computer and documentation duties so you can sit down with the patient and have a meaningful conversation.

Additionally, you need to manage your time well so you aren’t cramming your notes in at the end of the shift, or something important might get missed, says Michelle Katz, a licensed practical nurse in Los Angeles and author of Healthcare Made Easy. “You want to spend the right amount of time with the patient to be able to assess if the plan of treatment is effective. If you are rushed, you might miss something that is critical to the care of the patient.”

Thinking critically

Critical-thinking skills are necessary every day in nursing, Katz says.

“Since the nurse is dealing with the daily care in most cases, it is important that he or she observes what the patient can handle and what their resources are, as well as their mental state,” she says. “This is essential in assessing the appropriate care plan for the patient.”

When you think critically, you treat the person as a whole and keep in mind that their situation might change, she adds.

Source: http://www.monster.com/healthcare/a/non-clinical-skills-for-health-care-workers

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