What Skills Do You Need
to Become a Medical Professional?

See also: Careers in Healthcare

Becoming a medical professional is an awarding opportunity, but the decision to go through medical school shouldn’t be taken lightly. It takes a lot of dedication to be accepted into medical school, and you’ll be subjected to an intense schedule that will continue throughout your career.

If you want to succeed in this industry, you should have the following skills.

Medical professionals in surgery wearing PPE.

Capacity for Learning

At the beginning of your medical career, you’ll need to intern for multiple weeks during the day and study at night. You’ll have to prepare for various medical licenses, like the MCAT and USMLE, which will allow you to practice medicine. If you are in your first year of medical school, you can take prep courses for USMLE step 1 to help improve your test scores on the actual exam day. 

After medical school, it’s important that you continue to learn about the human body, medical procedures and ailments to continue to improve as a medical professional. You need to have a strong capacity for learning because medical technologies and discoveries continue to change and develop throughout your career.

Emotional Intelligence

Whether you’re a nurse or surgeon, you’ll need to interact with your patients every single day. Medical professionals need to display sensitivity and tact even during times of deep emotional stress. A significant aspect of your job is relaying bad medical news to relatives of patients, and you need to possess the emotional maturity to stay level-headed and professional.

To improve your emotional intelligence, try to imagine how you would feel if you were told by a doctor that your wife or husband was dying from an illness. Gauge how you would react and what you would want someone to say in that scenario. Imagining yourself in various settings will help you respond to the situation appropriately when the time comes.

Problem-Solving Skills

Medical professionals have to think and react on the fly and consult their mental Rolodex of symptoms and diagnoses to develop the best treatment options. There is an almost infinite number of ailments that a human can have, and some of them are rare or difficult to identify through testing. For this reason, it’s helpful to be a natural problem solver.

During your training, many of your upper-classmen or professors will test you on what ailment a patient may have. As a medical professional, it’s important for you to be as accurate as possible because administering the wrong medication or treatment could spell disaster for your patient. Be quick on your feet, and you’ll be a great doctor, nurse, technician, or surgeon.

Teamwork Skills

All medical professionals need to work with a well-oiled team to function. If one cog is broken or loose, it will create a domino effect of incorrect information or stalling that could hurt your patient. Even before you decided to commit to the medical field, you probably noticed that a group of nurses, doctors, surgeons, and technicians all relay information to each other constantly.

The ability to interact and build relationships with your colleagues and peers is essential because it ensures a harmonious working environment every single day. Even when your patient is sick, they understand when something isn’t working or if a relationship is lacking. If you have an issue with a team member, be sure to discuss it in private.


All medical professionals have the difficult job of improving the comfort of someone who is already uncomfortable, sick, or possibly dying. If you work in a hospital, you’ll likely have a lot of difficult days, and having the resilience to continue during tough times will benefit you. Resilience will propel you to consult more patients appropriately.

Being easily shaken by things isn’t necessarily a bad trait, but being paralyzed by a negative experience will impact your profession. You need to learn to manage your judgments and sensitivities in order to be a valuable member of the medical team. As you become more and more used to your profession, resilience should come naturally.

Communication Skills

Communication skills are critical in every career, but they come in handy in medicine. Interacting with colleagues and patients will be a daily occurrence, and if you have poor communication skills, you may confirm a diagnosis or the treatment options correctly. Or worse, you may not be able to speak to another staff member that you have an issue.

During the initial diagnostic stages, you need to ask your patient the right questions so you can make an appropriate diagnosis. If you ask too many closed or loaded questions, or don’t expand on what your patient told you, it’s possible you’ll miss something. If you can’t effectively talk to people, you’ll suffer - along with your patients who desperately need your guidance.

Attention to Detail

Missing just one detail can be disastrous for the people around you, especially when it comes to drug allergies or medical history. While it’s always important to look at the patient's chart before diagnosing, you should always confirm their history of allergies yourself in case something was missed. Technicians should also ask similar questions, even if it was already asked.

You should also be aware of your patient's medical history and visits because you may see a pattern develop. For example, if a patient has cuts and bruises on their body on their first visit, this could be a sign of clumsiness but, after multiple visits with the same symptoms, it could be an indicator of a more serious issue. A good medical professional notices everything.

Leadership Skills

Your profession in the medical industry determines how often you’ll use your leadership skills, but at some point, you’re going to be the go-to professional that multiple patients call upon for help. Whether you’re a nurse or technician, most people will want to stick with someone they already trust with their intimate details and will frown upon having multiple doctors.

Later in your career, you may even become a mentor for younger or budding students in the medical industry who will look up to you for your expertise. If you establish your leadership skills early, your peers are more likely to trust you as well. Being a great leader means that other people in your field will want to learn from your example, as well.

About the Author

Cristina Par is a content specialist with a passion for writing articles that bridge the gap between brands and their audiences. She believes that high-quality content plus the right link building strategies can turn the tables for businesses small and large.