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Sunday, April 15, 2012

What's better: Hard skills or soft skills?

If you're an RT you've developed skills to help you do your job, and do it well.  If not... well, then chances are you won't go far in this profession.  Some skills can be taught, and are essential to becoming a good RT.  Some skills, however, are learned, and are essential if you want to be more than just an RT.

There are two different types of skills:  hard skills and soft skills.

What are hard skill?  These are skills that can be taught and that you can improve with experience.  These include the following:
  1. Setting up and managing ventilators
  2. Doing breathing treatments
  3. Charting on a computer
  4. Performing EKGS
  5. Doing ABGs
  6. Setting up oxygen
  7. Performing a patient assessment
What are soft skills?  These are skills that help you get along with other people, and adapt to different situations, and help you move up the professional ladder.  These are your personal attributes, like:
  1. Common sense
  2. Empathy
  3. Sense of humor
  4. Optimism
  5. Sociability
  6. Teamwork
  7. Communication
  8. Prioritizing (time management)
  9. Leadership
  10. Manners
  11. Integrity
  12. Friendliness
  13. Strong work ethic
  14. Critical thinking (problem solving)
  15. Self confidence
  16. Ability to accept criticism
  17. Ability to learn from criticism
  18. Flexibility (adaptability)
  19. Working well under pressure
Since anyone can be taught hard skills, it's soft skills that separate the clan.  Anyone can do a breathing treatment on Mrs. Cox, but only a few can get her to like you.  Anybody can set up a ventilator, but only a few can gain the confidence of rough Dr. Bowersocks.

Anyone can join the gossip tree, yet it takes one with character and integrity to find something better to do.  Anyone can join the complainers, yet it takes one with a sense of humor to laugh it off.  Anyone can be a treatment jockey, yet it takes someone with empathy and good communication skills to truly benefit the patient.

There are a ton of treatments and EKGs to do in a short period of time.  Do you have a sense of urgency to properly prioritize and finish all your work so the next shift isn't overwhelmed?  

Can you get into a conversation with any patient?  Can you have a discussion with the complainers one moment and then an optimistic discussion with your boss the next?  Can you make any doctor or patient happy?  Does everyone like you?  If so, then you have good soft skills.

If your boss ever decides to get rid of a few RTs to downsize the RT department, the people he or she is most likely to keep are those with good soft skills.  Likewise, he's also more likely to consider those with soft skills for advanced assignments that might make you management material.

So anyone can learn hard skills to get you the job, yet learning the soft skills needed to keep your job is something only YOU can work on.  



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The soft skills are harder. That's for sure. I think maturity has a lot to do with it. I see younger therapists that seem to be having a hard time cultivating these skills and the sad part is that they don't even realize their lacking in this area. Autonomy takes time to build and can be thrown away almost overnight with the wrong attitude. Thanks for posting this.