As the healthcare industry evolves at the speed it has over the past couple of years, upskilling has become essential to staying competitive. This article sheds light on the importance of upskilling and shares five tangible steps you can take now. And, of course, if you’ve read my previous article, “Leading the Charge: Developing Your Leadership Voice in Digital Health,” you probably now know I thoroughly love using basketball references to convey ideas – so that’ll continue.
The truth is that your career and personal development are dependent on your ability to evolve with time. As we innovate and introduce new ideas, technologies and theories, the first requirement is to apply them daily to stay relevant and innovative. In basketball, as the game evolved from scoring points in the paint to long-range 3-pointers, the players needed to improve their shooting skills to be the best players and help their teams rise to the top. In healthcare, in addition to excellent soft skills such as communication, critical thinking and problem-solving, there has been an increase in healthcare leaders expanding their technical skill sets (dependent on your sector) to offer more value to their departments and teams.
Ways to Improve Your Hard and Soft Skills
- Attend Professional Development Courses
Professional development courses offer an excellent opportunity to acquire new skills and knowledge in your field. Whether through LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Udemy or a post-secondary institution, attending in-person or online courses allows you to learn from experienced professionals, gain new perspectives and stay current with industry trends.
- Practice Active Listening
Active listening is a critical healthcare skill requiring focus, empathy and patience. Although I’ve mentioned this practice in my previous article, I must share it again. Regardless of your position PG, C, etc., actively listening and building trust on the court is essential for coordinating plays and achieving success in basketball. By listening attentively to your patients, colleagues and other stakeholders, you can build that trust, understand their needs, and communicate more effectively.
- Join Professional Associations
This is your sign to seek an opportunity to join your local HIMSS chapter (a special shoutout to HIMSS Ontario). Professional associations offer a valuable network of peers, mentors and resources to help you grow and develop your skills. They also provide access to industry events, conferences and educational opportunities to enhance your knowledge and expertise.
- Engage in Reflective Practice
Reflective practice involves regularly reflecting on your experiences and identifying areas for improvement. In the 2019 playoffs, ex-Toronto Raptor Kawhi Leonard hit a shot from the corner over Joel Embiid at the buzzer, giving them a 92-90 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals series. This was a moment of celebration for the Raptors, but Embiid and the 76ers took this as a moment of learning to build on their weaknesses and make it to the Eastern Conference semifinals again in 2023 and potentially win it against the second seed Boston Celtics (to be confirmed). By setting aside time to reflect on your work, you can better understand your strengths and weaknesses and take steps to improve your performance.
- Seek Feedback
Seeking feedback from your colleagues, supervisors and patients is a powerful way to gain insights into your performance and identify areas for improvement. One of Kobe Bryant’s most influential mentors was Michael Jordan, a legendary basketball player Bryant looked up to and admired. Jordan took Bryant under his wing, providing him with guidance and advice throughout his career, even helping him refine his famous "fadeaway" shot. This is possible when you’re open to constructive criticism, listen attentively, and take action to address any areas that need improvement.
Like basketball, healthcare requires technical skills, communication, teamwork and a commitment to continuous improvement. You can stay at the top of your game by practicing these skills daily, seeking mentors and embracing failure as a learning opportunity. Remember, it’s never too late to learn new skills and improve your knowledge. By committing to continuous learning and growth, you can stay competitive in the healthcare industry and make a positive impact on the lives of others.