Being a medic is about much more than just holding the required qualifications. What acts to really set you apart from the rest is the ability to demonstrate the range of ‘soft skills’ you hold, whilst also showing how these have positively impacted on your working environment in the real world.
In an increasingly competitive market, it’s often the ability to demonstrate applied soft skills that sets you apart from the rest. Here, therefore, are our five most crucial soft skills that employers look for from 21st century medics.
To understand anything you must first understand the basics. ‘Soft skills’ are described as ‘personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people’. This seems simple enough, but in reality how do you demonstrate this in your CV, and which ones are most applicable for medics?
No matter what position you hold, from registrar to senior consultant, you need to show strong leadership qualities. Leadership is a combined mixture of a vast range of soft skills, with good communication, confidence, honesty and care at its heart. Being a strong leader means that you are prepared to take responsibility. It means that you feel confident working with a group of fellow medics and that you thrive under pressure. It also means that you treat any instances of failure rationally, and work to ensure that it is only seen as an opportunity for improvement - no matter how serious it may be.
To some people leadership comes naturally, for others it can be something which needs to be built up over time. For any role in medicine however it can be a crucial way to show potential employers how valuable a team member you could be.
How can I demonstrate this?
Make a point of including a situation where you were either put in charge of a scheme, or found yourself naturally acting as a leader within a group. Speak through the different challenges you faced in managing the team, the difficult decisions you faced and the end outcome - along with how you came to that decision. All of this shows good leadership qualities.
Emotional Intelligence and Empathy
Working as a medic can be a hugely rewarding career, however it also comes with plenty of difficult moments. Most notably delivering bad news to a patient. This can be heartbreaking for even the most experienced medics, and so it’s crucial that you show the correct amount of empathy whilst not allowing your emotions to impact on the decisions you take.
Your persona as a medic is crucial. Make yourself open and welcoming, and be aware that many people may be terrified by the prospect of, what to you is, a fairly routine surgery. Help settle any worries that patients may have, and be prepared to try and explain things in the simplest possible way - especially if you are working with children.
Try and establish a bond of trust between the patient, their family and yourself. This can help calm nerves at a stressful time, showing empathy or speaking about similar successful procedures can play a major role in ensuring that patients have a good experience.
The worst part of the job however is delivering news that can only be seen as bad. A terminal illness diagnosis can shatter a patient’s life, and so you need to make sure that you break the news to them in a caring and empathetic way. It can often help to put yourself in their situation to consider how you would deal with the news.
Working out how to work with patients and their loved ones is never easy, however the more experience you have the more confident you should feel in approaching very difficult issues.
How can I demonstrate this?
This can be a particularly difficult skill to show potential employers, however during the interview stage making sure that you are enthusiastic and upbeat about the role, whilst remaining serious about your career demonstrates a real understanding of emotional intelligence. Further to this any evidence of feedback from patients, such as cards or letters thanking you for the way in which you dealt with them or their family members, acts to prove that you are an empathetic and emotionally intelligent medic.
There is a thin line between confidence and arrogance, and as a medic you need to make sure that you act with an heir of confidence, without ever appearing arrogant.
The main difference is attitude. Confident people will be approachable and happy to help others with less knowledge. As a medic who will deal with a range of different knowledge levels this is a particularly crucial aspect. You need to be confident speaking about your area of expertise in simple terms for patients, as well as in great detail to give fellow medics and understanding of what you are trying to achieve.
Confidence is especially crucial when meeting with patients and working with less experienced medics. Nobody wants to feel as if they are being treated by a novice and so, no matter how inexperienced you are, giving out a feeling of confidence and experience can be crucial in helping you to convey the right image to patients and fellow medics.
How do I demonstrate this?
During the interview stage speak in detail about your subject and why you believe you are the right person for the role. Speak with a feeling of pride and confidence about your past achievements. Maintain confident body language throughout the process by ensuring that you have a good posture and maintain eye contact. To demonstrate practical examples of how confident you are, speak about times that you had to take brave decisions that you knew were correct, despite any potential risks associated with them.
Motivation and Flexibility
If you are the sort of person looking for a consistent, 9 to 5 job, then becoming a medic was probably the wrong career choice. As a medic every day will produce a range of different challenges, requiring you to work to keep up your motivation and remain flexible to deal with the various situations that can arise.
Being a motivated person is about adopting a ‘can do’ attitude that rubs off on all those around you. Motivated people will work to keep those they work with (both patients and medical staff) on top of their game even during tough times.
This motivation is crucial in making sure that you are as flexible as you can possibly be. All patients are different, and being flexible in how you deal with them personally is an important factor in developing a trusting relationship with them. Being flexible can also extend to working slightly longer hours should the hospital need you, or being prepared to swap shifts with a fellow medic should they have another important appointment at that time.
Not only will this demonstrate to hospital management that you are a flexible and committed worker, it will also help you to gain the respect of the others working in your specialty or department. Something that can play a big role if you are aiming to work your way up to the top of your career.
How do I demonstrate this?
Being a motivated and motivational person comes will naturally come across during the interview stage (and in some cases this enthusiasm can even be conveyed by your CV). Similarly to confidence positive body language and a positive attitude can combine to help make you a very appealing candidate. Flexibility can be shown through examples of times where you have had to adapt to circumstances, or through positive reports of helping out fellow medics in your department through your professional references.
Professionalism and Attention to Detail
Working in healthcare can be stressful and difficult. A range of pressures are often on medics, whilst they often have to juggle various tasks at the one time. That’s why it's crucial to always demonstrate the highest professional standards at all times. Keeping yourself well organised and composed during manic situations is what sets the world’s leading medics apart from others, whilst making sure that every detail of a patient’s care is carefully focused on further reinforces just why you are in such a demanding role.
Tiny details can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful medical procedure, so it’s crucial that - even under immense pressure - you are able to act calmly and with a focus on making sure that the patient receives the highest possible standard of care.
How do I demonstrate this?
Don’t be afraid to speak to potential employers about particularly stressful situations that you have worked in. This can be at any point in your career, and will act as evidence as to how you cope with the pressure. Further to this providing evidence of any awards you may have received for procedures carried out will only reinforce just how high the standards you set yourself are.
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