How to Improve Your Professionalism in a Healthcare Job

professional image at healthcare jobKeep these tips in mind so that you maintain a professional image at work

When you attend your career training classes, you might hear over and over again how important it is to be professional. What does this mean, exactly? This article is geared to people who are training for jobs in the field of healthcare and allied health. If you are training to be a medical assistant, dental assistant, surgical technologist, or other similar position, take a moment to read these tips. With this advice in mind, you can let your professionalism shine!

Tip #1: Patients come first

Treating patients respectfully and compassionately is one of the foremost rules for professionalism in a healthcare job. Many patients are friendly and cooperative, but there may also be patients who are rude, patients who complain a lot, or patients who are very demanding. It’s important to rise above any negative emotions that these patients trigger in you, and remain respectful and polite with patients at all times.

Tip #2: Observe patient privacy rules at all times

Patient privacy is of highest importance, and a professional healthcare worker, it is important to follow the rules for patient privacy. Some ways to help protect patient privacy are to use only the patient’s first name in the waiting room, wait until you are behind closed doors to discuss any medical issues with the patient, make sure patient charts are not left where others can see them, and never to discuss patient cases with anyone outside of the healthcare team.

Tip #3: Be courteous and polite to everyone

Simple manners can go a long way toward being seen as a professional on the job. Even if your day is hectic and everything is going wrong, it is still important to treat others with respect. Remember your basic manners when interacting with everyone, whether they are the top doctor, your supervisor, your peer, or the newest intern. Make eye contact with people when you speak with them. And it sounds simple, but it’s easy to forget: remember to smile! Your smile conveys that you are happy to help.

Tip #4: Accept your assignments without complaining

They call it “work” for a reason. Having job—especially a demanding job in the healthcare field—is hard work! But complaining doesn’t help. Most people don’t enjoy hearing others complain, and certainly you don’t want your supervisor to think of you as a complainer. If your supervisor asks you to do a task that you feel is “below” your qualifications, do it anyway, and do it well. With a positive attitude and a good record of performance, you may get the chance to move up to higher-level tasks. Above all, try to keep a positive attitude and remember that your job serves an important purpose. It helps patients get better!

Tip #5: Offer to go above and beyond

If you are in an entry-level position, or an assistant position such as a medical assistant, surgical technologist, or a certified nurse’s aide, you may wish you had more responsibilities on the job. One way to get noticed is to go above and beyond your regular duties. The best way to do this is to talk to your supervisor. Ask your supervisor if there are other tasks that you can do to help the team. By helping with extra tasks, you will be seen as a team player who wants to contribute to the needs of the workplace.

Tip #6: Try to learn something new at least once a week

The field of healthcare changes rapidly. From new medical developments to new technologies to new procedures, there is more to learn all the time. A lot of people are resistant to change, but try your best to stay open to learning new things.  Being flexible and adaptable will help you to embrace changes and learn from them. Seek out new educational opportunities, and show your curiosity on the job whenever you can!

Tip #7: Dress professionally

One simple way to be seen as a professional is to look like a professional. Always keep a neat, clean appearance at work. If you wear scrubs to work, be sure your scrubs are clean. They should not be wrinkled, faded, worn out, or mismatching. Be sure your shoes are in good condition, keep your hair clean and neat, and try to avoid makeup or jewelry that makes a loud statement.

Tip #8: Don’t gossip

Gossip is seen as unprofessional in just about every career field. Avoid gossip, and if someone else is trying to talk to you about your fellow co-workers, try to change the subject. Gossiping can occur verbally, and it can also occur in texts or social media posts. Never put anything in a text or a social media post that could embarrass you or embarrass someone else. In the healthcare field, there are also the patients to consider. It should go without saying that you should never gossip about patients or their loved ones.

Tip #9: Don’t text or take personal calls

Everywhere you go, people seem to be connected to an electronic device. When your friends and family expect to be able to reach you 24 hours a day, it can be hard to put down your mobile phone. But when you are on the job, your personal life needs to be put on temporary hold. Save any personal texting or phone calls for your break time.  Tell your friends and family that you can’t respond to texts when you are working, and eventually they will understand.

We hope these tips help you understand what it means to be professional on the job. By following this advice, you may find that your productivity increases. You may find that others treat you with a new sense of respect. And best of all, you may feel better about your own performance on the job.


This article was provided by the Harris School of Business. The Harris School is dedicated to preparing adults for meaningful careers in the fields of allied health and healthcare. Our school offers career-focused training for medical assistants, dental assistants, massage therapists, medical billing and coding specialists, surgical technologists, and more. Visit our programs page to find out about all the options!