Day 2: Personal Qualities of a Health Care Worker

Although health care workers are employed in many different career areas and in a variety of facilities, certain personal professional characteristics, attitudes, and rules of appearance apply to all health care professionals. This unit discusses these basic requirements.

Personal Appearance means the outward appearance of any person with regard to hairstyle, cleanliness, or manner of dress.

As a worker in any health career, it is important to present an appearance that inspires confidence and a positive self-image. Research has show that within 20 seconds to 4 minutes people form an impression about another person based mainly on appearance.

Although the rules of suitable appearance may vary, certain professional standards apply to most health careers and should be observed to create a positive impression.

Health care involves promoting health and preventing disease. Therefore, a health care worker should present a healthy appearance.

Proper Uniform

Many health occupations require uniforms. A Proper Uniform is a uniform that is always neat, well fitting, clean, and free from wrinkles.

Some agencies require a white uniform, but others allow pastel colors. In some facilities, the colors identify groups of workers.

If white uniforms are required, white or neutral undergarments should be worn. A large variety of uniform styles is available. Extreme styles in any type of uniform should be avoided.

It is important that the health care worker learn what type and color uniform is required or permitted and follow the standards established by the place of employment.

Name Badge

Most health care facilities require personnel to wear name badges or photo identification tags at all times. The badge usually states the name, title, and department of the health care worker. In some health care

settings, such as long-term care facilities, workers are required by law to wear identification badges.


Although white shoes are frequently required, many occupations allow other types of shoes. Any shoes should fit well and provide good support to prevent fatigue.

Avoid wearing open shoes unless they are standard dress for a particular occupation. Shoes should be cleaned daily. If shoelaces are part of the shoes, these must also be cleaned or replaced frequently.

Personal Hygiene

Good personal hygiene is essential. Because health care workers typically work in close contact with others, body odor must be controlled.

A daily bath or shower, use of deodorant or antiperspirant, good oral hygiene, and clean uniforms all help prevent body odor.

Strong odors caused by tobacco, perfumes, scented hairsprays, and after shave lotions can be offensive. In addition, certain scents can cause allergic reactions in some individuals.

The use of these products should be avoided when working with patients and coworkers.


Nails should be kept short and clean. If fingernails are long and/or pointed, they can injure patients.

They can also transmit germs, because dirt can collect under long nails. In addition, health care workers are now required to wear gloves for many

procedures. Long nails can tear or puncture gloves.

The use of colored nail polish is discouraged because the color can conceal any dirt that may collect under the nails.

Hand cream or lotion should be used to keep the hands from becoming chapped and dry from frequent hand washing.


Hair should be kept clean and neat. It should be styled attractively and be easy to care for.

If the job requires close contact with patients, long hair must be pinned back and kept off the collar. This prevents the hair from touching the patient, falling on a tray or on equipment, or blocking necessary vision during procedures.


Excessive makeup should be avoided. The purpose of makeup is to create a natural appearance and add to the attractiveness of a person.

Personal Characteristics

Many personal/professional characteristics and attitudes are required in the health occupations.

As a health care worker, you should make every effort to develop the following characteristics and attitudes and to incorporate them into your personality.

Empathy: Empathy means being able to identify with and understand another person's feelings, situation, and motives.

As a health care worker, you may care for persons of all ages-from the newborn infant to the elderly individual.In order to be successful, you must be sincerely interested in working with people.

You must care about others and be able to communicate and work with them. Understanding the needs of people and learning effective communication is one way to develop empathy.

Honesty: Truthfulness and integrity are important in any career field. Others must be able to trust you at all times. You must be willing to admit mistakes so they can be corrected.

Dependability: Employers and patients rely on you, so you must accept the responsibility required in your position. You must be prompt in reporting to work, and maintain a good attendance record. You must perform assigned tasks on time and accurately.

Patience: You must be tolerant and understanding. You must learn to control your temper and "count to ten" in difficult situations. Learning to deal with frustration and overcome obstacles is important.

Acceptance of criticism: Patients, employers, coworkers, and others may criticize you. Some criticism will be constructive and allow you to improve your work.

Remember that everyone has some areas where performance can be improved. Instead of becoming resentful, you must be willing to accept criticism and learn from it.

Enthusiasm: You must enjoy your work and display a positive attitude. Enthusiasm is contagious; it helps you do your best and encourages others to do the same. If you do not like some aspects of your job, concentrating on the positive points can help diminish the importance of the negative points.

Self-motivation: Self-motivation, or self-initiative, is the ability to begin or to followthrough with a task. You should be able to determine things that need to be done and do them without constant direction. You set goals for yourself and work to reach the goals.

Competence: Being competent means that you are qualified and capable of performing a task. You follow instructions, use approved procedures, and strive for accuracy in all you do.

You know your limits and ask for help or guidance if you do not know how to perform a procedure.

Responsibility: Responsibility implies being willing to be held accountable for your actions. Others can rely on you and know that you will meet your obligations. Responsibility means that you do what you are supposed to do.


In almost any health care career, you will be a part of an interdisciplinary health care team. The team concept was created to provide quality holistic health care to every patient.

Teamwork consists of many professionals, with different levels of education, ideas, backgrounds, and interests, working together for the benefit of the patient.

Each team member has an important job to do. When the team members work well together, the patient receives quality care.

Teamwork improves communication and continuity of care. All team members can help to identify the needs of the patient, offer opinions on the best type of care, participate as decisions are made on options of care, and suggest additional professionals who might be able to assist with specific needs.

In order for a team to function properly, every person on the team must understand the role of each team member. This knowledge provides a picture of the patient's total care plan. It also helps clarify each person's responsibility and establishes the goals that the team wants to achieve.


Stress can be defined as the body's reaction to any stimulus that requires a person to adjust to a changing environment.

Change always initiates stress. The stimuli to stress are called stressors.

Stressors can be situations, events, or concepts. Stressors can also be external or internal forces. For example, a heart attack is an internal stressor and a new job is an external stressor. No matter what the cause, a stressor will cause the body to go into an alarm or warning mode.

After the individual responds to the stressor and adapts or changes as needed, the parasympathetic system slowly causes opposite reactions in the body. This results in fatigue or exhaustion while the body returns to normal and recuperates.

If the body is subjected to continual stress with constant "up and down'' nervous system reactions, the normal functions of the body will be disrupted. This can result in a serious illness or disease.

Everyone experiences a certain degree of stress on a daily basis. The amount of stress felt usually depends on the individual's reaction to and perception of the situation causing stress.

Not all stress is harmful. In fact, a small amount of stress is essential to an individual's well-being because it makes a person more alert and raise the energy level.

The individuals is able to make quick judgments and decisions, becomes more organized, and is motivated to accomplish tasks and achieve goals. The way in which an individual responds to stressors determines whether the situation is helpful or harmful.

If stress causes positive feelings such as excitement, anticipation, self-confidence, and a sense of achievement, it is helpful.  


Certain personal characteristics, attitudes and rules of appearance apply to health care workers in all health careers. Every health care worker must constantly strive to develop the necessary characteristics and to present a professional appearance.

A professional appearance helps inspire confidence and a positive self image. Good health is an important part of appearance.

 Wearing the appropriate uniform or appropriate clothing and shoes is essential to projecting the proper image.

Proper hair and nail care, good personal hygiene, and limited makeup also help create a professional appearance.

 Personal characteristics such as honesty, dependability, patience, enthusiasm, responsibility, discretion, and competence are essential.

In addition, health care workers must be willing to learn and to accept criticism. These characteristics must be practiced and learned.

Teamwork is important in any health care career. Interdisciplinary health care teams provide quality holist health care to every patient. Teamwork improves communication and continuity of care.

Effective teams are the result of hard work patience, commitment, and practice.

Stress is a component in every individual's life. Stress can be good or bad, depending on the person's perception of and reaction to the stress. By being aware of the causes of stress, learning how to respond when a stress reaction occurs, solving problems to eliminate stress, and practicing techniques to reduce the effect of stress, an individual can deal with stress and even benefit from it.

Ok so now that we have covered the lesson on Personal Qualities of a Healthcare Worker, lets revise the new terms we leaned on the following quiz.

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