With more people than ever seeking out care, there are a lot of new professional healthcare workers. Therefore, it is important to maintain a culture of professionalism in healthcare settings. Professionalism contributes to better patient care and outcomes.
Learning to always act in a professional manner has a positive impact on your career and can lead to better opportunities faster than you might think.
Here are some tips for maintaining professionalism in the workplace.
Calm, Cool, Collected
There are plenty of emotions to go around in a healthcare setting. As a healthcare professional, you must remain calm and in control of a situation. Big emotional outbursts, raising your voice often and a hostile attitude will come back on you through employee reviews and patient feedback. There will be times when patients and their family may lash out. You cannot take this personally.
Patients and fellow staff members will like you a lot better if you are a comfort to others even when they are upset and directing some of their anger in your direction. At busy medical facilities, there are times when family members are getting some pretty awful news. It is natural for some to place blame where there should be none as a way of coming to terms with why something is happening to them or someone they love. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to think that someone could have always done more, even if that is not true.
Most facilities have policies in place regarding workplace relationships. Regardless of the exact rules at your workplace, you need to consider on your own terms how any level of relationship, including just basic friendships, will affect how you are seen professionally. Many very strong friendships develop in the workplace, and some go beyond just friends.
Involving yourself with co-workers on a social basis means opening yourself up in many ways. What you do outside the workplace will make it back to others, so it is important to consider if this is something you are comfortable with professionally. Some professionals choose to keep some distance between their work life and home and social life to avoid any issues altogether. At the same time, you do not want to be so cold toward coworkers that it is seen as off-putting. Occasionally accepting some social invitations from coworkers is probably a good idea as long as it is an activity you are comfortable with. There is a big difference between a potluck dinner at a park and a night out drinking.
Respect the chain of command
No matter what size medical facility you work at, it is important that you respect the chain of command. This means being clear on who is responsible and in charge of making specific decisions. This shows that you respect your coworkers and value their expertise. Making decisions that you are not authorized to do is something that should be done only in very extreme circumstances, and even then, there are bound to be consequences to your actions.
If you are unclear about a procedure or process, it is critical to ask the right questions so you can maintain a high level of professionalism.
Consider ways to improve your communication skills
Communication skills are acquired over time; however, there are some things you can do to take charge and improve them more rapidly. For example, you could take a Writing for the Media class to improve your communication in official press releases and statements.
Also, consider your body language when you are speaking to patients and coworkers, nodding to show you are paying attention and following what someone is saying. Facial expressions show empathy for a situation, while looking directly at someone shows that your attention is totally on them.
Work-related conferences and seminars are other great opportunities to improve your communication with colleagues. With practice comes a higher level of comfort and less anxiety when you have to communicate with a lot of people.
It is also important to work on communicating with people from different cultural backgrounds. Practically everywhere is becoming more diverse. As a professional, you need to learn about the cultures and customs of the predominant minority groups in your area as well as any increasingly common religions.
Be open to collaboration
Professionals know how to be good team players. You must learn to work well with others. This is not always easy, but those who learn to roll with the punches and treat others with respect and dignity will stand out at their facility. If you are recognized as being willing and comfortable working with many different people and helping them out when you can, then it will help you be considered for advancement opportunities and salary increases when they are available.
Hold yourself accountable
No one is perfect. You must realize when you are in error and take steps to fix the problems that your errors create. Taking responsibility for your decisions and acknowledging any problems or failures on your part is a good opportunity to take stock and figure out how to prevent future mistakes.
No matter how experienced you are, there will be days that you struggle. At times like this, it is good to reprioritize where you can and get help if possible so that mistakes can be avoided.
Accountability is not always easy; it means being honest with yourself and coming to terms with your own flaws and weaknesses as a professional.
Hold high standards
When it comes to the health and well-being of your patients, there is no room for cutting corners. As a professional, it is your job to uphold a high standard of patient care and do what you can to ensure other staff are living up to the standard, as well.
When shortcuts are made, or patients are not given enough attention, mistakes happen, and things may be overlooked that can make a huge difference in patient outcomes.
If it seems like everyone in the workplace is overwhelmed on a regular basis, then it is important that this is brought to the attention of administrators so steps can be taken so that patient care does not suffer.
Every state medical board requires licensed medical professionals to maintain a certain set of standards, and some even require that you pass a specific examination about what those standards are.
For example, Texas physician licenses are only granted to physicians who pass the Texas Jurisprudence Exam.
This state-specific examination tests your knowledge of state health and safety codes as well as the laws and regulations related to your professional activities and particular scope of practice. Without a passing grade that proves your competency and knowledge of the laws and rules of practice in the state, the Texas Medical Board won’t even issue you a license.
Be altruistic and compassionate
As a healthcare professional, your job is to ensure that patients get the best care they possibly can without expecting more than your salary from your employer. Patients will not always be nice to you or even thank you for things you do. But, of course, there will be many that are very grateful. No matter what, you must treat patients and their families with the utmost compassion. This means checking in a lot and going the extra mile to make sure they feel cared for and respected.
Healthcare professionals with fantastic bedside manners will find they advance faster in their careers and get more positive feedback from patients. Another advantage to being as compassionate as possible is that patients heal faster and have better outcomes when they consistently receive compassionate care that shows they can trust those responsible for their treatment and recovery.
Always be observant of dress codes
Medical facilities have dress codes for some positions, while others may be allowed some extra freedom in how they dress and wear their hair or makeup. Regardless of dress codes, it is important to use some common sense when making decisions about your professional appearance. Now is not the time to show off bold makeup or hairstyles. Even if something like an unnatural hair color is allowed, you should ask yourself if this might change how patients perceive you at your workplace.
Personal accessories should always be chosen for safety first, followed by appearance.
Try to get better at conflict resolution
As a professional, you may need to be the arbitrator in conflicts. This can mean resolving conflicts between a doctor, patient or other staff members. Sometimes having a neutral party to resolve conflicts is the best way to handle them efficiently. In addition, establishing yourself as being good at conflict resolution puts you in an excellent position for future leadership roles.
It is important to remember that conflict is inevitable no matter how much you try to prevent incidents. The key is to resolve them quickly and not let them interfere with the level of care that patients receive. At the same time, it is important to understand when conflicts need to be brought to the attention of administrators for full resolution. Trying to tackle major conflicts should not be put on any individual.
Learn to keep a positive attitude
It is important to look at the bright side of things even when it seems like you are being hit with a lot of challenges. Taking some time to take stock of the positive part of your work life is important. Some people find taking a few minutes outside of work to write down what is going well is helpful for maintaining positivity in their professional and home life.
Remembering that challenges come and go is essential for keeping a positive outlook throughout the workweek. Positive thinking has a major impact on those around you, as well. Just like negativity can be infectious, so can a positive mindset.
Never turn down an opportunity to learn
No matter where you are in your career, there is always something that can be learned. Here are a few ways to increase your knowledge as a professional.
Earn an advanced degree while continuing to work
If you are currently a CRNA, you can begin to work towards gaining your license in anesthesiology. While the roles are similar, the pay range can vary drastically.
The average anesthesiologist salary certainly makes continuing your education worth the effort, time, and investment.
According to Medscape, the average salary for anesthesiologists is $448,000 annually. On top of that hefty salary, these medical professionals can take home an average of $68,000 as an incentive bonus.
Although an anesthesiologist will take on more malpractice risk than a CRNA, their work/life balance is in a much better state than overworked nurse practitioners.
Look for additional certification classes and seminars
If you are not ready to commit to an advanced-degree program, you can attend plenty of additional certifications and continuing education seminars. Additional certifications reinforce your professionalism and allow you to learn new things that can help you to provide a higher level of patient care.
Don’t forget that helpful seminars do not have to be just about healthcare. Writing, business, people skills and more are all subjects you can apply in your professional life so you can do better and help others achieve their goals, as well.
Seek out professional conferences and networking events
There is no shortage of conferences and networking events that can be attended either virtually or in person. Although always attending virtually may sound appealing, taking part in conferences and networking events where you interact with people directly is good. Over time, you may want to take a more active role in these types of events. Sharing your expertise via a talk is great for your professional reputation and people skills.
Take the time to read up on new medical trends and practices
Just because you are no longer in school doesn’t mean you should not read studies, articles and journals at times. Keeping up with current medical news is also advisable. Just taking a few 30-minute periods per week to keep ahead of what is happening in the medical world can make a huge difference in your professional knowledge.
Find Opportunities to Learn within the Workplace
Some areas of medical care are harder to get a job in than others. For example, there is often stiff competition for positions in maternity wings at hospitals, which means those who really want to work in that department have to find ways to stand out. Volunteering in different areas of a facility or asking to spend some time working in a different area if your schedule permits is a great way to learn the ropes and gain the experience and skills you need to meet your professional goals.
Always remember that there are things you can learn from others no matter what their level of experience may be. Just because you have 10 years more experience than someone doesn’t mean they don’t have anything that can add to your knowledge base.
What Can I do if I Find Other Employees are not Acting Professionally?
While everyone makes mistakes, there may be times when you find a colleague who is not acting in a professional manner, and it is affecting those around them. People must be given a chance to make corrections and improvements. If you are their supervisor, then you are responsible for offering constructive criticism and making suggestions as to how the employee can improve. It may take some time for these changes to become apparent, especially if the unprofessional behavior was the result of an uncommon situation.
Of course, there are some instances where you are merely the observer. All medical facilities should have a procedure in place for employees to report actions. Make sure that it is really worth it to take any complaint to the next level. In many cases, just pointing out a problem and offering some suggestions for improvement is all that is needed.
While maintaining your professionalism might seem like a tall order, it will become second nature to you as you progress in your career. Remember that everyone has difficult days when they might feel that they are not performing at their best. In these cases, asking for help or reprioritizing goals for the day is important. This might mean doing something the next day if it is not critical to providing the best care to a patient.
While professionalism should be a goal for employees at all levels and positions in the healthcare system, there is no doubt that more is expected as you rise to higher positions. Unfortunately, unprofessionalism is not as widely tolerated or excusable when you are an administrator or manager at a healthcare facility.
Those that are in charge of telling others what needs to be done are under a lot of pressure to exhibit exemplary professionalism. This is why it is important to treat professionalism seriously, even when starting your career. If you get used to it, then it will just be something you do naturally.