Career orientation: Skills for health care transformation

Health care is transforming. As we are facing new challenges, boosting our soft skills capabilities can help us to take an active leadership role in the coming transformation. Aiming to acquire new tools and mindsets, this workshop offered students insights into (bio)entrepreneurship and leadership as practice instead of something person-centric or a position.

This hands-on workshop, facilitated by Anna Birgersdotter, PhD, offered the opportunity to work with practical applications to meet the new demands:

  • Actively build up, manage and engage our soft skills portfolios.
  • Learn tools to deal with complexity and adapting to the “new normal” in health care.
  • Identify opportunities in the emerging future via co-creation and communication.

Health Economics & Health Care Transformation

The starting point for the workshop was an outline of the significant shift towards preventive & proactive medicine when it comes to dealing with chronic diseases. There are also interesting developments in personalized medicine and pharmacogenomic testing to determine for breast and ovarian cancer risk for instance.

Another important factor is the “empowered patient”, how health care is moving from a paternalistic perspective to individual centric. It’s a fact that to manage disease, individuals spend much more time in selfcare than healthcare. This requires novel health care competence, cocreation & co-design and a “collective mind shift”.

The big picture is changing with accelerated knowledge, increased educated work force and it’s even more important to be aware of what companies want and to be a proactive part of the changes.

To keep up with these changes, a new set of skills in our portfolios become even more important.

Hard Skills vs Soft Skills

How can we then build our skills portfolio and cultivate it? First we need to know how to differentiate between and communicate various forms of skills in professional contexts like personal skills, social, skills, methodological skills etc (see table in the presentation, p. 36-37)

Then there are certain skills that are particularly relevant when it comes to transformation.

(Soft) Skills according to EIT health: to tackle transformation:

  • Interpersonal and citizen oriented skills
  • Communication skills
  • Digital and data literacy
  • Interprofessional and multiprofessional skills
  • Critical thinking and decision making
  • Health system skills
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Management skills

We can also see that in the systemic transformation of the health care, a “humanity skill set” and empathy becomes ever more important as a change making skill whether you are a leader or entrepreneur in health care.

Empathy tips:

  • OPEN questions
  • ask WHY often
  • LISTEN 80%, talk 20%
  • dig for STORIES and emotions

Navigating Complexity and Change

Whether you are aiming to become a leader or not, also the role of the facilitator is changing in a more complex and uncertain health care landscape.

Facilitation is moving from:

  • Clear goals – goal focused process to move directly from A to B
  • Linear processes
  • No collaboration
  • Hiearachical
  • Predictable, non-dynamic

Facilitation is moving towards:

  • Fuzzy goals - Goal oriented processes where there is more space for exploration
  • Vision & Navigation
  • Non-linear
  • Iteration
  • Collaborative & Co-creative
  • Complexed
  • Unpredictable

We also need to become good at identifying opportunities for change or innovation. Some helpful guidelines to start with:

  • Understand
  • Try, create and test
  • Iterate
  • Learn from the future

First steps

Action plan for training:

What, when, how?


You can find more information and tools for improving empathy skills etc in Anna's presentation (the CARESS Model, Johari Window, Theory of U etc).


Karolina Kublickiene & Angelina Schwarz
DevReg Doctoral Programme, CLINTEC, Renal Medicine

Organized in collaboration with the EU funded CaReSyAn consortium 

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