If experience and training were the only things necessary to get a healthcare job, it might be a lot easier to get hired.
Instead hospitals, medical facilities, dentist offices, and pharmacies look for someone who is qualified and who has the qualities the will help provide efficient healthcare and make their patients feel better. While the responsibilities of each job will vary, we’ve put together a list of qualities that medical assistants, CNAs, dental assistants, and pharmacy technicians who are working in the field have listed as needed for the job.
Medical Assistant Qualities[i]
Medical assistants perform an exciting mix of administrative and clinical tasks, including scheduling appointments, taking medical histories, administering medications and injections, and preparing samples for the lab. Here are medical assistant qualities that might be helpful to have when performing the responsibilities of the job:
- Attention to detail: Being careful and accurate in keeping track of patient records, recording dosage / symptoms / history accurately, and not overbooking appointments.
- Concern for others: A natural concern for others is beneficial, since a large part of the job is helping people who are sick and incapacitated.
- Integrity: Being honest and forthcoming with information helps employers and patients to trust you.
- Stress tolerance: A busy flu season or a cranky patient means that you need to be able to stay calm, cool, and collected for the sake of your patients and your job.
A certified nurse assistant (also known as certified nurse aide or nurse assistant) provide basic patient care, usually under the supervision of a head nurse or as part of a nursing staff. Some of the responsibilities of a CNA include feeding, bathing, dressing, grooming, and transporting patients and answering the calls of patients who are in pain or distress. Below is a list of CNA qualities that may be helpful when on-the-job:
- Social: CNAs deal with patients, their families, and administrators all throughout the work day, so it is helpful to be a social person who can communicate in an effective and respectful way.
- Initiative: Oftentimes, you’ll be responsible for a patient’s well-being (at least for the duration of your shift), so you should be able to be accountable for completing duties.
- Dependability: Because healthcare involves life and death situations at times, it is crucial to demonstrate dependability in attending work on time and sticking to schedules such as administering medication and tending to patients’ bandages.
- Concern for others: Just as with medical assistants, a concern for others should come naturally since the main focus of the healthcare industry is to help and heal.
Dental Assistant Qualities[iii]
Dental assistants work side-by-side with dentists to aid with treatment, set up equipment, keep records, and prep patients and exam rooms for treatment. You might want to work on these dental assistant qualities if you want to pursue a career in the field:
- Attention to detail: Whether you’re making sure a patient is properly covered by the protective gear while being x-rayed or making sure you write down which tooth hurts, you should always take care to be sure what you’re doing is accurate and performed with care.
- Stress tolerance: Do you enjoy going to the dentist? Well, most people don’t enjoy it, so sometimes people get cranky. You must be able to work with patients and your co-workers in a tolerant and respectful manner.
- Social perceptiveness: Some patients are terrified of going to the dentist, so if you can pick up on social clues of pain or fear, you might turn out to be a wonderfully perceptive dental assistant.
- Independence: Dentists will rely on you to assist them and prep exam rooms with all the equipment they’ll need for treatments or procedures, and you’ll need to be independent enough to do it without direct supervision.
Pharmacy Technician Qualities[iv]
Under the direction of a pharmacist, a pharmacy technician is responsible for preparing medications, which includes mixing, counting out, labeling, and recording quantity and dosage of medications according to a doctor's prescription. The following pharmacy technician qualities may be essential to a person’s success in the position:
- Communication: 95% of pharmacy technicians say they needed speak on the phone daily and 91% say they needed to communicate face-to-face every day for their jobs. So you can assume that communicating effectively with pharmacists, doctors, medical assistants, and customers is an important part of the job.
- Attention to detail: Mislabeling or administering the wrong dosage of medication can sometimes be deadly, so it is crucial for pharmacy techs to pay very close attention to detail.
- Integrity: Pharmacies are filled with medications that have the potential to be harmful or addictive, so pharmacy technicians need to have integrity and be honest and forthcoming with their supervisor about any breaches of security.
- Concern for others: As with many, if not all, careers in the healthcare field, a natural concern for others’ well-being can only make helping people that much easier to strive for.
We talked to Meghan Doherty from HealthcareSource, a talent management software company that focuses exclusively on healthcare industry employees. We asked her about what’s important when working towards a career in a healthcare specialty:
“It's no longer good enough to have the best technical or clinical skills. To remain competitive, healthcare organizations across the country are applying behavioral science to their hiring practices to measure and develop key behavioral competencies, such as: work ethic, customer focus, teamwork, compassion, openness to learning, valuing diversity, energy, flexibility/adaptability, multi-tasking.”
Melissa Koehn, the human resources director at an assisted living facility, says that when it comes to hiring healthcare professionals, “We want people who don't just 'talk the talk' but who actually 'walk the walk.' When we're interviewing people, we want to evaluate their soft skills, too. People who wear their heart on their sleeve. People who give service from the heart. That's who we're looking for.”
Professionals in and around the healthcare industry know that it may take more than just know-how and training to be successful at your job. If you have a natural concern for others, a desire to learn new things, and want a fast-paced and exciting job, a career in healthcare might be a logical path for you to pursue!