Working in the health care field is a great way to help others, whether you tend to the sick and injured or provide preventative services. Being a health care professional can also be challenging, since it requires you to be able to think on your feet and make important decisions. How can you make sure you succeed in this field? Knowing more about the characteristics of a good health care professional can help.

What Is a Health Care Professional?

A health care professional is someone who provides health services to patients, including care for physical or mental conditions. They study physical or mental illnesses and injuries that can occur in humans. Some diagnose and treat these health conditions, while others focus on preventing them from occurring. For example, an oncologist provides cancer diagnoses and treatment, while a general practitioner conducts wellness exams. Health care professionals range from medical doctors and nursing professionals to dentists, psychologists, and pharmacists.

Qualities of a Good Health Care Professional

What are some qualities of a successful health care professional? From having a strong work ethic to an eye for detail, the following are some of the top characteristics you should have in order to be a good health care professional. Keep in mind that some of these might come naturally to you, while you can learn others in a degree program.

1. Service Oriented

Good health care professionals are motivated by a desire to serve and help others. They focus on patient and client needs in order to make meaningful differences in their lives. Service-oriented people acknowledge and act on their sense of responsibility to their community and society as a whole. Working in the heath care field, you will need to be sensitive to your patient's needs while working towards the best outcomes.

2. Empathy and Compassion

Having empathy and compassion is one of the most important characteristics of health care professionals. Your work might involve caring for patients who are going through difficult health problems. Even patients suffering minor health issues need to be treated compassionately and respectfully. You should also be able to provide the best care possible to patients who hold different beliefs and values from your own. Having empathy and compassion toward all patients and their family members can help you deliver exceptional patient care.

3. Hardworking

Health professionals sometimes work long hours or handle intense situations that require making difficult decisions. Some health care professionals work in stressful environments or spend several hours a day on their feet doing physical tasks. Being a hardworking individual who can meet these challenges is important when you choose this type of career. You’ll need to rely on a strong work ethic as you go about your day-to-day routine.

4. Passion for the Field

Since health care can be a stressful career at times, it’s essential to be passionate about this kind of work. When you have a passion for your career as a health care professional and the health care field in general, it can motivate you to keep going on tough workdays. Think about why you want to get into this line of work, such as the ability to help patients heal from injuries and illnesses or the opportunity to help patients maintain good health.

5. Strong Communication Skills

Working in health care means communicating with other health professionals, patients, and patients’ family members. Strong communication skills help lower the risk of misunderstandings or errors in patient care. Good communication ensures that all members of a patient’s health care team are on the same page. It also makes it easier to ensure that patients and their families understand at-home care instructions. Effective communication skills are especially important when a patient speaks a different language than you do.

6. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Being as healthy as possible as a health care professional can help you handle the demands of the job. For example, being physically fit makes it easier to move patients and equipment around and remain on your feet most of the day. You’ll also have more energy for long shifts. When you take good care of yourself through sufficient sleep, healthy eating, stress management, and physical activity, you also set a great example for your patients.

7. The Ability to Multitask

Health care professionals might be expected to handle multiple tasks in a hectic work environment. Being able to multitask means you can ensure these tasks are accomplished while still providing quality patient care and ensuring patient safety. For example, you might have several patients under your care. You’ll need to multitask effectively to check on their condition, administer care, and update medical records.

8. Strong Problem-Solving Skills

Working in health care often involves making quick decisions as situations change. Sometimes you might need to make decisions that affect a patient’s outcome, such as recommending certain treatments for serious medical conditions. Since each workday comes with its own challenges, it’s important to have solid problem-solving skills. You’ll need to be able to come up with solutions to problems, even stressful ones, in a calm manner.

9. Detail-Oriented

As a health care professional, you might need to evaluate lab test results, imaging tests, and other diagnostic tests, making the ability to notice details incredibly important. Being detail-oriented can help ensure that you notice details that are needed for an accurate diagnosis. Having an eye for detail is also important for completing patient medical records and other health-related paperwork.

10. Knowledgeable

Patients who are under your care want to know that you have the skills and experience needed to handle their medical problems. Being knowledgeable in your area of health care means that you have undergone the right training for your profession. If you’re responsible for creating a treatment plan for patients, being knowledgeable helps ensure high-quality patient care and safety.

Learn More

Interested in becoming a health care professional? Contact the U of M today for more information on our Health and Wellbeing Sciences bachelor’s degree program. This program includes courses in the physical, biological, and social sciences to prepare you for a health care career.