The healthcare sector encompasses a wide variety of operations and services, including preventive medicine, emergency care, residential care, outpatient care, and ambulatory services. For the sake of public health, this network of services must continue to run as seamlessly as possible. To this end, healthcare employees must possess sufficient leadership skills.
With leadership skills, healthcare professionals can navigate situations where they have to make quick decisions and coordinate with others effectively. However, leadership goes beyond quick thinking. Effective leadership in the healthcare industry requires a wide variety of important soft and hard skills.
Importance of Strong Leadership Qualities in Healthcare
Not every healthcare professional is a leader, but good leadership qualities are helpful to virtually every healthcare professional. On top of the need for effective collaboration and quick judgment calls, good leadership skills can give employees a high level of confidence in their position.
Healthcare professionals who are in leadership roles face a unique set of challenges. Healthcare is often a high-pressure, high-stakes environment. As such, collaboration and communication are key, and morale can be difficult to maintain. Therefore, the healthcare field needs individuals who can effectively coordinate teams and act as the grounding anchor many employees in this challenging field need.
In addition to hands-on experience, these opportunities can be supported by educational credentials. For example, someone who has a BSN may benefit from moving on to an MSN, or an occupational therapy assistant may choose to earn credits to move into the role of an occupational therapist.
Interpersonal skills is a catch-all term to describe skills that we use to interact, communicate, and coordinate effectively with others. In the healthcare industry, these skills are vital in many roles due to the large amount of information that needs to be passed between individuals and departments.
Additionally, healthcare professionals need to carefully manage patient interactions. What is often known as “good bedside manner,” this mindful management could include being considerate of a patient’s dignity, helping them as they handle pain or stress, or practicing active listening to provide a better diagnosis and treatment plan.
In the healthcare industry, information needs to be communicated quickly and accurately, as failure to document an allergy or a miscommunication about dosage can have disastrous, if not deadly, results.
Even in situations where the consequences are not dire, healthcare professionals run the risk of damaging their professional reputation if they make such mistakes. For example, a pharmacist who fills a prescription incorrectly could lose their accreditation or could even be sued for malpractice.
Additionally, effective communication can help patients who are receiving treatment. When patients struggle with pain or stress, effective communication is probably the last thing on their minds. Instead, it’s up to healthcare professionals to prioritize this communication, minimize stress, and guide patients through their next steps in a treatment plan.
Healthcare professionals should not only be highly knowledgeable about information related to their position, but they should also be able to inspire confidence in others about that knowledge. Leaders must be able to answer questions, provide guidance to team members, and make decisions — team members and patients must be able to trust the information they receive is accurate. Further, when communicating with patients and other professionals, healthcare employees must be clear about their opinions and recommendations.
It’s also important that healthcare professionals have a holistic understanding of how to optimally perform a variety of tasks, even those beyond providing patient care. For example, in addition to basic care tasks, nurses typically need computer, administrative, and organizational skills.
Teamwork is a vital component of virtually all healthcare work. For example, a group of nurses may need to work together to prepare a patient for care, or a lab technician may need to send their findings from a blood panel to a general care practitioner.
Furthermore, it’s important for professionals in different healthcare facilities to think of themselves as a “team” as well. Oftentimes, patients will rely on the collaboration of several professionals to receive the care they need. Important skills related to teamwork include delegation, training, and peer assistance.
Computer skills and other technical skills are becoming increasingly integral to the healthcare field. Computers are used for everything from filing paperwork and facilitating telehealth consultations to conducting surgical procedures.
This expansion of technology in the healthcare industry is not only allowing for updates to analog processes but also opening up entirely new career opportunities. Telehealth, notably, is opening up career prospects for a wide range of healthcare professionals, from general practitioners to therapists.
As this digital infrastructure is used more, it requires more maintenance, resulting in the need for information technology professionals in the healthcare industry.
Organization is key in all aspects of the healthcare industry. Patient records can be complicated and complex; they may also be handled and updated by different professionals. This can result in errors in these important documents if they aren’t carefully organized.
Additionally, documentation related to patients and employees is highly confidential, so it’s important to keep the information secure. Without knowing where the information is and who has access to it, this information is at risk of exposure. As such, healthcare professionals must be on the same page when it comes to organization, and strong leadership is needed to maintain high organizational standards.
All healthcare professionals can benefit from developing these leadership skills. What’s more, developing these skills can also benefit patients, coworkers and employees, and healthcare organizations as a whole. Improved leadership qualities allow healthcare professionals to provide better patient care, help teams operate more efficiently, and enable everyone to do their best possible work.