Occupational Health Professionals cover a wide range of positions, from Occupational Therapists to Occupational Safety Experts and everything in between. Whether they’re working in an office building and analyzing the environment to ensure a healthy working habitat, or working directly with patients to optimize for a healthy lifestyle, Occupational Health Professionals are important members of the healthcare field. Regardless of their specialties and working environments, there are a few qualities they must possess in order to be the best and come out on top.
The number one skill employers want, across the board, is communication. As an Occupational Health Professional, that becomes even more important. When your entire job consists of working with and helping people, being able to communicate your intentions is vital. OPHs, especially Occupational Health Therapists, spend a good portion of their time listening to their patients and explaining in-depth procedures and situations to them.
In addition, transferring those communication skills to writing is a must for an OPH. Keeping detailed files on clients and procedures is not only beneficial to the client, but to others in the field who may be present when the OPH is not. In the Occupational Health field, the saying goes: When in doubt, write it out!
Some successes come quickly, and some come over months or years. The best Occupational Health Professionals learn not to become discouraged when faced with seemingly never-ending challenges. Indeed, the OPH may be working with people who are not receptive to any kind of help. Patients may be moody, pessimistic, frustrated, angry or just downright uninterested in getting the OPH’s help. However, remaining cool, calm and patient in the face of adversity can lead to some amazing breakthroughs.
Creativity & Problem-Solving Prowess
An Occupational Health Professional’s entire job is coming up with creative solutions to problems. They must design, create, and help implement procedures and processes that promote health and wellness in their patients. Because creativity is innate—that is, it cannot be taught—it is one of the most sought after qualities in OPHs. Knowing how to express one’s personality in a constructive way can make the difference been an okay OPH and a phenomenal OPH. In fact, 78% of people believe that expressing personal creativity makes a real difference in their lives.
Attention to Detail
It’s the small things that have the biggest effect on a patient’s life. Paying attention to any small problems your patient might be facing could mean the difference in their wellness—and that means an Occupational Health Professional must be a keen observer. By noticing something small in a patient (a twitch, the way they respond to something, an offhand comment), an OPH could find the key to what the real problem is. A great OPH may think of their cases as mysteries to be solved, and as we know, the greatest mysteries are unraveled by the smallest details.
The best Occupational Health Professionals have a true desire to help their patients. While some professionals work in standard work environments (offices, factories) doing environment optimization, some work directly with disabled individuals. In either case, an OHP must have a passion for making their patients’ lives better. As anyone in the healthcare field knows, a genuinely warm and kind word or action can make the difference for a patient. Knowing that someone actually wants them to get better is sometimes the push a patient needs to make a step in the right direction.
And Finally, Flexibility
The single most important quality an Occupational Health Professional can have is flexibility. Having the other 5 traits is important as well, but knowing how to adapt and work fluidly in new situations and environments is essential. The best OHPs hold true to themselves, while still being able to change and adapt. They know which aspects of their job are set in stone, and which can be tweaked to fit a patient’s best interests.
Overall, being an Occupational Health Professional is an extremely difficult job. It requires the patience of a saint and the agility of a cheetah. However, the results a great OHP can achieve are unlike anything else in the healthcare field.