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The Value of Soft Skills in Healthcare

Posted on: July 14, 2020

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The worldwide coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in a dire need for additional healthcare workers. States have implemented various waivers, or suspended regulations, to increase available healthcare staff by encouraging returning from retirement, or working across state lines. This has contributed to an increase in the demand for travel nurses, and other healthcare professionals.

A travel assignment can enable healthcare workers to use clinical skills in various facilities. In order to succeed in a new work environment, it's beneficial to have a combination of hard and soft skills.

Hard vs. Soft Skills

Healthcare workers require specific clinical skills to perform tasks effectively. These hard skills are teachable, measurable, and display competency for the unique skills necessary for a specific job. Most of these skills are gained from a curriculum, or taught within the healthcare environment, but more than clinical competency is required to be successful. A travel assignment requires the ability to quickly adapt to new work environments while working with a variety of new coworkers, healthcare teams, and patients. 

Soft skills aren’t specific to a job, but can confirm that you’re a good fit for the position, and make it easier to adapt to a new role. Soft skills are sometimes referred to as people skills, or character traits. This range of skills draws from our emotional intelligence, and are the characteristics that form the basis of our personality. They can affect how we’re perceived by others, help increase productivity, teamwork, and contribute to positive career achievements

The Value of Soft Skills

A lack of soft skills can impact work performance, or result in job dissatisfaction. An increased awareness of the value of soft skills can allow you to work to improve upon them.

Soft Skills Include:

  • Communication 

Verbal and nonverbal communication skills allow you to clearly convey complicated information to patients, family members, and the interdisciplinary team. Moving from assignment to travel assignment requires collaborating with new coworkers. The inability to communicate well can influence others' perception of your work performance, lead to miscommunication, negatively impact interactions, and may cause your patients to avoid asking pertinent questions. 

  • Teamwork 

Patients receive care from a team of healthcare workers. The effectiveness of that team relies upon the contributions of each member. Having each person support each other allows for a better functioning team, which can contribute to improved patient outcomes.   

  • Adaptability

Healthcare is ever-changing. Being flexible, resilient to change, resourceful, and having the ability to easily adapt to new environments and experiences, is key in a travel assignment. A lack of flexibility can cause frustration and inefficiency.

  • Critical Thinking

Travel assignments often require working with new or different procedures, or other unexpected circumstances. Utilizing critical thinking, and problem solving skills, can assist you in making informed decisions based on your knowledge base to help determine the best resolution. 

  • Empathy 

The ability to share and understand another’s feelings, listen, and engage others in a way that encourages them to express their fears and concerns, can assist in developing positive relationships. COVID-19 has made this skill even more essential. The highly contagious virus and the need to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has impacted family visitation, restricted human touch, and impaired viewing of facial expressions, and other body language. 

  • Organizational Skills

Prioritizing tasks, multi-tasking, and adjusting to last minute schedule changes is often necessary when you’re working in healthcare. In a travel position, you may be moving from one workplace to another and each may require varying paperwork. Being organized can help to reduce becoming overwhelmed. 

  • Positive Attitude

A negative attitude can make a challenging day more difficult. No matter how good your clinical skills are, lacking a positive attitude can impact your ability to form effective work relationships, collaborate with a team, and the overall work environment.  

Succeed with Soft Skills

Healthcare workers are always in demand, and now more than ever due to the coronavirus. A strong work ethic, and acting in a professional manner, are almost always skills an employer values, but soft skills aren’t always as evident as a list of clinical competencies. 


Beginning a new position, or meshing with an established healthcare team, can be challenging. Combining soft skills with strong clinical skills can make the transition smoother and provide a competitive advantage for working in a healthcare travel position.

Ready to begin your journey into traveling healthcare? Contact the Barton Healthcare Staffing team today to get started!

Maureen Bonatch MSN, RN
About Maureen Bonatch MSN, RN

Maureen Bonatch MSN, BSN, RN draws from years of experience in nursing administration, leadership and psychiatric nursing to write healthcare content. Her work has appeared in numerous health system websites and healthcare journals. Her experience as a fiction author helps her craft engaging and creative content. Learn more about her freelance writing at CharmedType.com and her fiction books at MaureenBonatch.com.