Hard vs. Soft Skills in Healthcare: Definition, Examples, and Importance

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All job industries have a specific set of requirements they look for in potential employees, and they’re usually a part of one of two categories: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are the skills you’d think of when it comes to the main skills you’d need for a specific job. These skills are gained through education and training specific to a job. On the other hand, soft skills are the interpersonal skills that one may naturally possess, but they too can be learned.

Here’s a look at some of the hard and soft skills required in the healthcare industry.

Hard Skills in Healthcare

Hard skills in healthcare are skills that are usually only used in the healthcare industry. Anyone can learn basic hard skills in healthcare, but medical professionals must learn both basic and advanced hard skills in healthcare.

Vital Signs

Healthcare professionals who work directly with patients and perform routine health screenings must know the vital signs and how to monitor and check them. Some examples of vital signs include:

  • Blood pressure
  • Body temperature
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Pulse rate
  • Respiration rate

These are a few key indicators of health— which is why people visit healthcare professionals. In addition to vital signs, it’s also important to be able to analyze patients in emergency situations, such as knowing the signs of a heart attack or stroke.

Medical Terminology

It goes without saying that all healthcare professionals should have some level of understanding of medical terminology, depending on their role in healthcare. For example, a receptionist at a physician’s office may not understand all of the medical terminology that the physician understands. At the same time, different physicians (e.g., a dermatologist vs. a neurologist) are going to have a better understanding of medical terms specific to their specialty. Overall, everyone in healthcare should have a least a basic understanding of medical:

  • Abbreviations
  • Acronyms
  • Prefixes
  • Root words
  • Suffixes

Basic and Advanced First Aid


Lastly, healthcare professionals should have an understanding of basic and/or advanced first aid techniques— again, depending on their role in the healthcare industry. Overall, just about anyone can learn basic first aid techniques, which include CPR certifications and recertifications, how to treat minor cuts/burns/fractures, and how to use basic medical equipment. Advanced first aid, on the other hand, deals with head and spinal cord injuries, severe allergic reactions, drug poisonings, and major cuts/burns/fractures. This requires formal training, whereas basic first aid certifications can be retrieved through online training programs like ProTrainings.

Soft Skills in Healthcare

The top soft skills in healthcare are also skills that you’ll see in a variety of job industries— if not all.

Time Management

Being able to properly manage time is critical in healthcare. Some healthcare professionals have a set schedule and routine when most days are predictable and pretty much the same, but there are many other professionals who experience the opposite. Still, time management is essential no matter what type of schedule they may have. Examples of time management include:

  • Checklists
  • Delegation
  • Goal setting
  • Prioritization
  • Setting deadlines
  • To-do lists

Managing Stress

Stress management is another important skill to have when working in healthcare. Healthcare is one of the most stressful work industries in the world because it’s fast-paced and people’s lives literally depend on it. Too much stress can lead to burnout, which is common in the healthcare industry. Examples of ways to deal with and relieve stress include:

  • Improve emotional awareness
  • Problem-solving
  • Yoga and other relaxation techniques

Effective Communication

Finally, the healthcare industry requires good communication from its employees. Healthcare professionals are constantly communicating with their patients, their patients’ families, and other healthcare workers, and miscommunication can have serious consequences. Those who work with patients regularly must also be able to communicate in a compassionate way, especially when handling a difficult situation. They must also be able to communicate effectively with their coworkers, which includes working well with others and being a team player.

Again, these are all soft skills, meaning that these skills are just as important in many other job industries— not just in the healthcare industry.

No matter what job industry you work in, you need both hard and soft skills to be successful. Hard skills require proper education and training, whereas soft skills are usually acquired informally, but you can learn to develop soft skills. Most professionals work on perfecting their hard skills, but it’s just as important to perfect soft skills as well.