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Hard Skills Aren't Enough: How to Improve Healthcare Soft Skills



Healthcare professionals must develop the soft skills they desperately need — for their patients’ wellbeing and their own.

Healthcare soft skills include such abilities as clear communication, emotional intelligence, teamwork, self-development, and professionalism, as listed in 5 Essential Soft Skills for Frontline Healthcare Workers. And “although [these soft] skills aren’t as straightforward to teach as technical training, they are just as vital to any healthcare organization’s success.”

Troublingly, there’s a soft skills gap in medical candidates at a time when such skills are especially crucial. Given the strain the coronavirus pandemic is putting on healthcare systems, medical professionals should be well versed in healthcare soft skills to face the strenuous demands upon them.

Why the gap? An Absence of Essential Skills in the Current Healthcare Landscape explains that the soft skills gap in medical candidates is “due to several factors, including shifts in focus in the education system, technology, and stress.”

What can healthcare leaders do right now? We must teach healthcare professionals the soft skills they desperately need — for their patients’ wellbeing and their own.

The Society for Human Resource Management writes, “While it's true that some people have innate personality traits that allow them to evince certain soft skills more naturally, these skills are also honed over time.”

Let’s look further into the “what,” “why,” and “how” of developing the top two essential healthcare soft skills.

Developing the Top Two Essential Healthcare Soft Skills

#1 Healthcare Soft Skill = Self-Awareness & Self-Development


Positive Psychology tells us that “self-awareness is the ability to see yourself clearly and objectively through reflection and introspection.”

The Berkeley Well-Being Institute describes self-development as “the process of learning new things and building new skills — skills that help us increase our chances of success, achieving our goals, and manifesting our dreams.”


Self-awareness is the foundation of every successful self-development process. The two simply go together.

As noted in the article The Importance of “Soft” Skills in Nursing & Healthcare Professions, “The first step in developing nursing and healthcare students’ ‘soft’ skills is to determine which are lacking. By first defining the skills that are lacking, it allows the student to develop an improvement plan for those ‘soft’ skills.”


Personality assessments are a great way to enhance self-awareness. The True Colors Online Personality Assessment provides unique insights into participants’ strengths and weaknesses and can therefore serve as an effective launching point for improvement plans.

#2 Healthcare Soft Skill = Communication


Communication can be spoken, written, read, or via non-verbal means such as body language. In the world of healthcare, communication takes place between patients, their family members, and healthcare providers. It also takes place between a wide range of healthcare professionals functioning in different roles, but all working for the same end goal of patient wellbeing.


Being able to communicate effectively is one of the most vital skills in the field of healthcare. Being able to listen, comprehend, and explain in clear terms to patients and their caretakers enhances the ability to provide patients with effective and individualized care. Clear communication with team members and interprofessional colleagues is also vital in fostering successful collaboration in the workplace.”


The True Colors Communication Workshop first helps individuals recognize their own way of communicating and then teaches them how to appreciate the different communication styles of others. True Colors will teach healthcare professionals how to communicate more effectively and how to apply communication techniques for maximum impact in all healthcare environments, at home, and in their communities.

Remember, Hard Skills Aren’t Enough

Healthcare professionals need all the support they can get during this challenging time. The hard skills they’ve so impressively accumulated simply aren’t enough.

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