Any healthcare professional knows what a rewarding career in medicine can be. After all, you get to earn your living making a real and profound difference in the lives of others. You get to help people through some of their most difficult moments. You get to bear witness to births and deaths, to recovery and healing.

However, you may not have realized about your healthcare career is how well it is equipping you for leadership, no matter where your life may take you, either personally or professionally. This article explores the many leadership skills that a healthcare career can help you develop.

Emotional Labor

Emotional labor lies at the heart of healthcare. The practice of medicine is inherently a highly emotional endeavor. Patients and families are often scared. They may even be angry. 

Yet, even in the most volatile of situations, you must learn to remain in control of your emotions and ensure that they do not negatively impact the quality of care you provide to both patients and their loved ones. 

This means that, with every patient you care for and every highly emotional situation you successfully navigate, you will be increasing your emotional intelligence. That, in turn, makes you more adept at managing groups and teams, both in the workplace and outside of it. 

You will, in essence, become a more empathetic clinician, caregiver, and leader. Hard emotional labour and robust emotional intelligence enable you to understand, relate, and respond to the perspectives and feelings of others more effectively than those who cultivate hard skills alone.

Communication and Active Listening

Healthcare professionals know how difficult it can be to nurture effective communication when a family is distraught or a patient is terrified. Yet strong communication skills are precisely what nurses, physicians, and other healthcare providers need to survive and thrive in their careers.

In the healthcare setting, however, effective communication is less about the ability to impact information effectively than it is about the ability to listen actively to your patients, their loved ones, and your team. 

This means knowing how to perceive what you are listening to. Patients and families, for instance, maybe afraid to verbalize their fears, their concerns, or even their questions. 

To listen actively both for what is said and what isn’t means asking questions, hearing without judgment, and deploying your emotional intelligence to understand and respond with compassion, care, and competence.

Not surprisingly, this is a rare and invaluable skill set that all employers value and often urgently require, no matter the industry. After all, you can’t build a cohesive team, nor can you expect to serve others, whether they are patients, customers, or clients if you’re unable to understand their needs, values, and goals.

Collaborative Problem-Solving

Every healthcare provider, no matter their specific job function, is a problem-solver at heart. Your goal, in the end, is to prevent illness and injury or to help restore your patients’ comfort and wellbeing. In other words, your entire career is dedicated to identifying and solving problems. 

Often this involves a significant amount of teamwork, as you and your colleagues work to define and address emerging patient care challenges in a manner that is  efficient and effective. 

What is true in the medical setting is true of all workplaces, all businesses. Unexpected problems arise every day and an effective leader can rise to the challenge of each new day, defining and implementing solutions that best serve the interest of all.

The Takeaway

When you pursue a career in healthcare, you’re not just earning your living helping others. You’re also developing essential leadership skills that can serve you extremely well in both your personal and professional life, no matter where the journey may take you! 

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