“Our workforce is our most precious resource,” said Rick Pollack, President and CEO of the American Hospital Association (AHA). “The people who work in hospitals and health systems are truly the heart of healthcare.”
While you may already be a healthcare super star, it’s still important to grow and refine your hard and soft skills. Here’s how to upskill and advance your healthcare career. But first, what are hard skills and what are soft skills? Let’s find out.
- Hard skills vs soft skills
- Benefits of upskilling
- 3 ways to upskill and advance your healthcare career
The Value of Upskilling for Healthcare Professionals
Hard skills vs soft skills
To become a working professional, you have to have a certain set of skills. What exactly that looks like depends on the industry, seniority level, and job requirements. For example, to become a nurse, one must go to nursing school to learn what nurses do and how to do it. The skills that are learned in nursing school are hard skills.
Hard skills are the teachable, job-specific skills that help professionals be successful in their field. For healthcare professionals like yourself, hard skills may include knowledge of regulatory practices and chart requirements, as well as proficiency in healthcare computer systems and databases, the ability to monitory vital signs, and analyzing patient data.
When making hiring decisions, hiring managers look at a candidate’s personality, hard skills, and soft skills. While hard skills are necessary for one’s ability to do a job and generally easy to measure, soft skills are how you relate to and interact with other people.
In other words, soft skills are your “people skills” or “interpersonal skills.” And they’re much more difficult to quantify; however, still important. According to LinkedIn’s “2019 Global Talent Trends Report,” 89% of recruiters say that lack of soft skills is one of the main reasons an applicant wasn’t hired.
First, there are soft skills that employers want to see in all employees — things like the ability to effectively communicate or work on a team. Then there are more specific soft skills that are preferred in certain job types and not as much in others. For instance, healthcare workers should not only have the professional knowledge and ability to treat patients, but should also have soft skills such as efficient time management, compassion for patients, stress management, and a strong work ethic.
For a successful career in healthcare, it’s vital to have a combination of both hard and soft skills. Hard skills are what help you perform the basic abilities of your job. Soft skills translate to the things that make you you.
Benefits of upskilling
Now that we know what the difference is between soft skills and hard skills, it’s time to find out about upskilling. What is it? Why is it important? What’s the value of upskilling?
Upskilling is “the training that helps an individual become better at the job they’re already doing.” This could be informal training like shadowing a colleague in another department to more formal training like continued education and anything in-between.
Upskilling is a guaranteed way to take your healthcare career to the next level. By upskilling, you’ll gain greater knowledge in your field of expertise, and in turn, be better prepared for industry changes and supply and demand challenges.
In addition, upskilling will keep you updated and in-the-know on healthcare industry news, recruitment trends, and other relevant insights. Some other benefits of upskilling include increased confidence, productivity, and patient satisfaction.
Do you recall your very first day with a patient? Were your palms sweaty? Your voice shaky? Your heart dramatically pumping? How many patients did it take before you started to feel more confident in your healthcare abilities?
Just like your education and experience improve your confidence, so does upskilling. In fact, experts say that upskilling is one of the “best ways” to boost confidence at work. With more confidence, you may be quick to identify and resolve problems before they become crises and communicate more effectively with colleagues, patients, and their families. Plus, with elevated confidence naturally comes increased job satisfaction. Sounds like a win-win-win.
Not only does upskilling do favors for your confidence levels, but it also enhances professional productivity. In fact, studies show that eight out of 10 employees say upskilling has made them “more productive.” Wondering why?
It’s because you’re able (and encouraged) to brainstorm and share fresh ideas and solutions, you feel more confident to take on more challenging tasks, and you’re better equipped to do more in less time. Think about it this way: Boosted productivity leads to better results, which means happier and more engaged travelers like yourself.
Leads to higher patient satisfaction
Patients are at the center of healthcare. And it behooves all healthcare professionals, facilities, and agencies to have happy and satisfied patients. The way to ensure happy patients? To upskill and refine your own happiness.
Usually, as patients move through a wide variety of healthcare settings, soft skills are what stick out the most to them. Their perspective or satisfaction rating is directly tied to the way you carry yourself as a healthcare professional. Oftentimes, hospitals and other healthcare facilities conduct patient questionnaires or surveys to measure your soft skills. They ask things like:
- Were you treated with respect and dignity?
- Were all procedures explained to you in a way you easily understood?
- How well did the staff work together?
Learning and development opportunities get you more engaged and motivated in your role, which translates to how you interact with and treat patients. Your patients deserve the best quality of care, and you deserve to feel good about what you do.
3 ways to upskill and advance your healthcare career
It’s obvious that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to upskilling. But as a professional healthcare worker, what are some ways to upskill and advance your career? We’re so glad you asked! Check out these three ways to upskill in healthcare.
Keep up with healthcare technology trends
From wearable technology to healthcare apps to portable monitors, healthcare technology is constantly evolving. One of the main ways to upskill is to keep up with the ever-changing healthcare technology trends.
The HIMSS Future of Healthcare Report shows that 80% of healthcare providers plan to invest even more funds in technology and digital solutions over the next five years. In 2020, the healthcare technology industry generated more than $250 billion and is expected to exceed $880 billion by 2030.
To make yourself even more valuable, upskill and master the many different types of healthcare technology. We’re talking artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, the internet of things (IoT), and more.
Enroll in continued education units (CEUs)
Contrary to popular belief, the learning doesn’t stop once you get hired for a healthcare job. In fact, it just begins. Sure, CEUs are typically required for state licensure. But they’re also a sure-fire way to advance your healthcare career.
“With accelerating advances in health information and technology, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals must maintain their knowledge and skills throughout their careers,” said Dr. Med. Janina Beilner, Siemens Healthineers Services’ Vice President of Application Services. “That’s the only way to provide safe, effective, and high-quality healthcare for their patients.”
According to The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), CEUs are a “vehicle for spreading best practices and how to improve patient outcomes.” They provide a learning platform that helps you evolve your wealth of knowledge, as well as personal and professional growth.
Perhaps most importantly, CEUs are almost always required to maintain a valid healthcare license. So, if you want to keep doing what you do, attend conferences and seminars or online courses and webinars to earn CEU credits to propel your healthcare to the next level.
Obtain multiple state licenses
It’s no secret that the state licensing process can be slow, at best. Do yourself a favor and apply for multiple state licenses at once. That way, you’re not left waiting and without a job at the last minute. Depending on the state and healthcare specialty, it can take anywhere from 48 hours to three months to receive a state license.
If you’re a nurse, look into the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The NLC is a multi-state nursing license that allows you to legally practice your nursing skills in all participating states. To date, there are 39 U.S. states that have enacted the NLC meaning you can travel and work in any of those locations without the need for separate nursing licenses. For therapy workers, there’s the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact and Occupational Therapy Compact. Same concept, different healthcare fields and specialties.
You’re the healthcare industry’s “most precious resource” because not many other people can do what you do, but many want to. As such a specialty area, healthcare is also one of the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As the industry grows and more workers enter the profession, it’s important to set yourself apart from the competition. And what better way to do that than by upskilling?