Soft Skills for a Better Patient Experience

Written by Rose Torrento on Thursday, August 18, 2022 Posted in On the Job

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Healthcare is a relationship between patients who need care and the professionals who deliver it. Bringing these two sides together takes more than clinical treatment knowledge. Patient care creates an experience for both patient and provider. To facilitate the best possible healthcare experience, nurses must complement medical acumen with soft skills.

The importance of soft skills in nursing

Aspiring healthcare professionals spend years honing their technical skills. They attend school to acquire the necessary knowledge and earn the required qualifications. Nurses rely on an ever-expanding reservoir of clinical information to help them provide patients with accurate and effective treatment. Nursing students learn measurable, quantitative skills, including how to administer IV fluids, check vital signs, and perform examinations.

But these “hard skills” are only half of the equation. Nurses must also develop soft skills, which include the social and emotional intelligence to foster interpersonal relationships. Patients are more likely to perceive and respond to soft skills during care, so learning how to insert a catheter isn’t enough. Communication, sympathy, and attention to detail are critical to a positive patient experience.

Soft skills for patient care

Soft skills influence how nurses interact with patients and their loved ones. Certain soft skills are more applicable to patient care than others, including:

  • Communication. Nurses must be able to clearly explain treatment plans in a way patients will understand. They must also listen when patients speak and accurately communicate their needs to other healthcare team members.
  • Compassion. A hospital stay can be scary. Whether patients experience stress while awaiting diagnosis, or frustration from a lapse in recovery, compassion and empathy can help them feel calm and improve their well-being.
  • Resilience. Nursing is a high-stress profession where anything can happen — and frequently does. Nurses must demonstrate resilience and keep their composure, regardless of the circumstances. In nursing, resilience means focusing on the patient in front of you even when problems arise elsewhere.
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Developing soft skills for nursing

There’s no textbook for teaching soft skills to nurses. Developing soft skills is an ongoing process, one nurses should practice on every shift. Every patient interaction is an opportunity to use and improve soft skills. Use these tools to enhance your soft skill set:

  • Self-reflection. Take stock of your strengths and weaknesses. Identify soft skills that need improvement, and brainstorm ways to apply them while administering patient care.
  • Daily habits. You can improve a soft skill by making time for it in your schedule. Pick a consistent time every day to organize patient tasks or practice techniques for stress relief.
  • Role models. Good healthcare managers lead by example. Observe how team leaders and other nurses interact with patients, families, and hospital staff. Note the soft skills they use to enhance the patient experience, and apply those to your own interactions.

Nurses cannot learn every soft skill overnight. Just as the medical field is always changing, nurses must work to continuously develop the necessary soft skills. Practicing soft skills is key to providing a better patient experience.

At Health Providers Choice, we encourage nurses to pursue excellence in professional development. If you’re looking for resources, don’t hesitate to reach out to your recruiter today. We support you on your mission to become the best healthcare professional you can be. Contact us online or call us today at 888-299-9800.

About the Author

Rose Torrento

Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.