Health care executives say these are the most important skills workers need right now

Technical experience is always a must-have, but you’d be smart to brush up on some softer skills too.

Health care executives say these are the most important skills workers need right now

Health care is a vast and expanding field with an increasingly huge array of specialties. And while technical expertise is still extremely important, there are some other skills that nearly anyone in the field could hone if they want a successful career.

Just ask industry execs.

“The softer skills including communication, and more specifically listening skills, can be the differentiator between an accurate diagnosis and misdiagnosis,” says Marco Coppola, chief medical officer at Family ER + Urgent Care in Irving, Texas.

Check out the skills Coppola and other top health care bosses say you should try to master right now.

Data analytics

While other industries have made changes to harness data more effectively, health care is a little behind, says Jim Lebret, assistant professor of medicine and clinical innovation at NYU Medical Center and director of code team leaders at Bellevue Hospital.

And being able to analyze data will be increasingly important in a wide variety of health care positions at all levels, “All health entities need a mechanism to take up and use patient data,” he says.

Basic programming

Even knowing the limits of what your devices and computers can do is helpful, Lebret says. With the rise of the Internet of Things—machine-to-machine communication—it will be useful for health care employees to be able to get devices, computers, apps and software to share data and integrate capabilities. Learning some simple coding, knowing how to use apps such as If This Then That or simply understanding how information is shared between devices can give you a leg up when solving problems in the health care sphere.

Clear writing

Knowing how to express yourself clearly and concisely is vital, Lebret says. “Time and again we see errors in medicine because something isn’t expressed the right way.”

Clinical efficiency

With a renewed focus on keeping costs in line, efficiency in your clinical work is key. “Unfortunately, too many young residency graduates rely on a battery of labs and CT scans to make a diagnosis,” Coppola says. “It is truly the rare physician who can diagnose with minimal work-ups and without costing the patient a fortune.”  

Bedside manner

Yes, this has always been important. But how you deliver that diagnosis matters in an era where patient satisfaction scores reign supreme. “Health care is one of the only things that requires any sort of personal touch and true empathy anymore,” says Cortney Baker, owner of KidsCare Therapy, which provides home pediatric care in Addison, Texas. “Therefore, those who work in health care have to take the time to be sincere, interested and empathetic to those they are caring for.”


One important skill that can cross specialties is the ability to collect clinical data, conduct clinical trials and apply critical thinking, says Robert J. Casquejo, owner of Skin and Cancer Center of Scottsdale, Arizona.

“Research is the backbone of traditional medicine,” he says “Medicine needs clinicians who will embrace the challenge of statistical analysis, experimentation, development of hypotheses and the organized reporting of clinical data.”

“The challenge,” he adds, “is getting more of our health care providers to take time away from patient care to spend time dedicated to clinical research.”

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