Should You Be Cultivating A Culture of Compassion?

Recently a healthcare hiring blogger asked me to share insights into how important compassion is when scoping out applicants in the hiring process.

Let me start out by saying, I prefer the word ‘caring’ in healthcare HR because I feel like compassion can be synonymous with being overly gooey. There is nothing worse than coming into your dentist’s office with a head-splitting toothache and having the person at the front desk ooze a too-gooey sympathy all over you.

In fact, I would even go so far as to say that those who can’t help, sympathize. There’s no point in dripping compassion everywhere if you can simply be efficient in a caring manner and make the pain go away instead!

“In fact, I would even go so far as to say that those
who can’t help, sympathize.”

Caring is a very very important trait for hiring in healthcare. It is probably equal in importance to ability & efficiency as far as raw material for long-term great staff persons.

You’ve got to differentiate here. We don’t want sticky, sappy blubbering staff who feel ‘oh so sorry!’ for the poor patient. We want an efficient staff, who are effective in getting their job done and care enough to do it well, thereby making best medicine possible. Only then will the patient be helped when they walk in the door.

How do I test for it? We use personality assessments, and also recommend a group hiring technique that helps weed out those who are bringing a toxic attitude into the practice. Watch how each applicant interacts with the interviewer, your staff, and each other. 

So should compassion be a factor in hiring for a healthcare practice? Only if by compassionate you mean someone who cares enough to do the job right, and make sure the patient is well taken care of.

I think there is a limit to how much that kind of compassion can be taught. Probably the best method of cultivating a caring attitude in a new hire is making this one of your practice’s core values, and striving to demonstrate it yourself. You can’t truly teach compassion, but it is infectious. For those who don’t catch it, make liberal use of the probationary period to send them back out the door.” 

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