Photo by Luis Melendez on Unsplash
We see the life of a medical professional represented on television, and we all think it’s something we can all do, or at least, aspire to do what they do. Being a strong healthcare provider is not just about being able to deal with certain emotional facets, in fact, being a strong healthcare provider is about having so many different skills, that are either part of you, or skills you need to learn to make the most of this incredibly visceral role. Whether you are looking to work as a doctor or a nurse, it’s important to remember that being a healthcare provider, or even people who are first responders or work on the front line need to have a very specific mix of physical, mental, and emotional skills. With this in mind, here are some of the things that you may not necessarily consider on the surface to be essential, but is absolutely integral to the role.
Being Able to Display a Strong, Yet Empathetic Image
Being a healthcare professional can seem somewhat clinical. After all, when we look at what being a healthcare professional entails on TV, they are always in their scrubs. And yes, while shows like Grey’s Anatomy have certainly given people the ideas of what being a healthcare provider entails, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Yes, while there are companies that provide specific scrubs, for example, the Uniform Advantage Grey’s Anatomy scrubs provide that professional image, the reality is that you need to bring a strong image to the role.
Doctors and nurses are people who need to command respect. However, if you want to work with a patient, and need them to come around to your way of thinking, being a strict authoritarian does not gain the results. Instead, you’ve got to think about that strong and stable image, but also remind patients that you are human. This is not necessarily an easy combination to get, but it all begins with that inner confidence. How many doctors have you encountered in your life that sum up some of the following personality traits?
- Lacking communication skills.
- Looks like they don’t care.
These are all things that we come away from the hospital thinking that should not be. Doctors need to be communicative, and warm people! And we can certainly dig deep and wonder why they are like this, but the answer is simple, they are distancing themselves emotionally. So this means we’ve got to get the balance right. We want to be empathetic to patients, however, we cannot let it consume our lives outside of the hospital. To develop a strong image, you’ve got to be confident, but to develop that sense of empathy, you’ve got to learn how to separate your emotions.
Understand Your Weaknesses
The hardest thing for medical professionals to come to terms with, when they are faced with mortality on a daily basis, is to admit that they are human and make mistakes. The most important thing we can all do as healthcare professionals, and as people, is understanding where we are falling down. If you want to be inspiring to others, you’ve got to be honest. However, we live in an age where we think that making mistakes is going to unravel us. Understanding our weaknesses is not being negative, but about understanding where we can improve.
In order to be an effective healthcare professional, you’ve got to recognize the aspects that could do with a little fine-tuning. Every healthcare provider in the wake of COVID has understood the points where they are exhausted and depleting their supplies, so they have to work harder to maintain a solid and confident front. However, it’s not so easy to make this a reality.
When we understand our weaknesses, we can begin to prime ourselves in the right ways. There is no way around fatigue, but if we have minuscule faults, we can work to rectify these things. A lot of these problems begin in the mind. This is how you can start to prime yourself to get yourself into an appropriate mindset. Here are some simple things to consider:
- Positive self-talk. This is an approach that can help you to retrain your brain, especially after a long shift, leaving you with a negative mindset. It’s important to realize that it’s not something you should do when you’re feeling down, rather it should be a daily habit. In entrepreneurial circles, people like Tony Robbins use positive self-talk because it retrains the brain to think in a more positive manner.
- Mentally preparing your brain. Dr. Doug McGuff, an ER physician, spends his drive into the hospital preparing his brain by going through the steps of the most complex procedure he will ever have to make that day. And when you start to prime your brain in this respect, it is a wonderful way to desensitize yourself to the anxieties. Here is a talk he did on thriving in high-stress situations:
- Exposing yourself to the stress in a controlled dose. The part of your brain that contributes to emotional processing, the amygdala, can be desensitized, and you can do this by exposing yourself to a stressful situation, however in a controlled dose. In healthcare circles, it might not be so easy to control your dosage, but you must recognize when you are being over-exposed because the symptoms of anxiety will rise up.
The three components here are a great way to prime yourself ready for the environment.
Learning How to Expand Your Knowledge Effectively
If you want to be a solid healthcare provider, you’ve got to learn how to question the status quo. Expanding your knowledge is never easy. But when we come to many healthcare professionals who have a specific opinion of a diagnosis, they believe their opinion is the correct one. However, the best doctors should actively encourage you to have a second opinion. The right doctors and nurses should be challenged. However, this can be very exhausting.
Learning to expand your knowledge means that you have to have a passion for the career. We all have times when we are emotionally drained, and this is especially true in the healthcare industry, but learning to expand our knowledge isn’t necessarily about learning how to do something and being amazing at it. We’ve got to give ourselves the opportunities to suck at something. And this is a very important lesson. In life, we expect to do something because we are good at it. But being a healthcare professional means you have a base level of knowledge, and the rest is purely doing it for fun.
When you have an interest in a very specific ailment or a part of the active genotype that stimulates certain diseases, this is all surplus to what we are doing as a career. It’s going to help us expand our knowledge in different ways, and beyond what we comprehend in our role, but it’s not going to hinder our current abilities. We should all be learning constantly. And we’ve all encountered those doctors and nurses who appear somewhat stubborn. If you want to be a strong healthcare provider, you’ve got to learn how to expand your base level of knowledge with the right tactics. You could try some of the following:
- Reading. It’s a simple way to expand your knowledge and keep your brain active. Taking online classes.
- Trying something new.
- Asking questions.
- Talking to a mentor. This is very important because it gives us different insights into what we already know.
- Approaching something from a different angle. This is always an important tactic. You can do this tonight when you brush your teeth. If you brush with your right hand, use your left. It’s a way of retraining your other hemisphere. And it’s these things that can give us a different perspective on situations.
Strengthen Your Physical Foundations
The hardest thing to do as a healthcare professional is to stay strong. There are times when we feel physically burnt out, and while we can learn how to avoid getting burnt out if the foundations are not strong enough, we’ve got to strengthen them. Our abilities to tolerate stress can increase as we get older, but much like in the army, where it is crucial to have a very strong physical foundation that keeps them moving, the same should be applied to healthcare professionals. This means taking the opportunity to listen to your body where you can and make sure you look after it by practicing self-care. Of course, exercise is essential, but you can run the risk of doing too much. The podcast below is a great way for first responders to understand how best to keep fit, and this means not overdoing it.
Physically, we’ve got to tread a fine line. Being physically fit is paramount, but we’ve got to be dynamic and mobile in our movements, which means that we have the strength to do the job, but also know how to recover properly.
To be a strong healthcare provider, you must recognize the importance of what we define strength as. These are all ideas that you can use and incorporate into your life but if you are looking at becoming a healthcare professional, it is not just about what you see on TV!