12 Essential Healthcare Assistant Skills (With FAQ)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 19 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Working as a healthcare assistant can be a challenging but rewarding job. Healthcare assistants collaborate with other medical professionals to treat patients in hospitals and clinics. If you're interested in becoming a healthcare assistant, understanding the skills required to excel in the role can help you pursue the right qualifications. In this article, we discuss 12 essential healthcare assistant skills and answer some frequently asked questions about the job.

12 essential healthcare assistant skills

Here are 12 healthcare assistant skills and how they apply to the role:

1. Communication

Communication involves the ability to receive and provide information. Healthcare assistants often communicate with patients and their family members while performing their duties. They also support nurses and doctors in providing treatment, which may require giving and taking instructions. It's important to develop active listening skills to ensure you've understood a patient's symptoms or needs. Being able to give clear and concise information to colleagues can help with efficiently providing treatment. Non-verbal communication, such as body language, is also important to note, as some patients may have difficulties speaking or listening.

Related: What Is Communication? (And Its Importance in the Workplace)

2. Compassion

Compassion is the ability to show sympathy and concern for other people's suffering. Patients are often going through physical or emotional challenges. Being able to show compassion can help build trust with patients, which may result in them being more receptive to your instructions and advice.

3. Team player

Healthcare assistants directly work alongside many other healthcare professionals. It's crucial that healthcare assistants can effectively collaborate with their coworkers to provide more comprehensive treatment for patients. A patient's needs are unpredictable and sometimes complicated in terms of treatment required, so it's important that you're able to ask for help or feedback. Actively motivating your coworkers can also help contribute to a more positive work environment.

Related: How to Become a Physician Assistant (With Qualifications and Skills)

4. Patience

Patience involves the ability to remain calm despite challenging circumstances. Your patients may need help with many daily tasks, such as getting dressed or eating. Remaining patient and calm while assisting patients can help them feel more comfortable despite their circumstances.

5. Physical stamina

Some duties of healthcare assistants have physical aspects. Patients may require assistance moving around or a colleague may need help to transport medical equipment. Healthcare assistants also often stand for long periods. Having sufficient stamina to remain focused while performing your duties can minimise chances of mistakes. Consider maintaining healthy habits, such as a balanced diet, consistent sleep schedule and regular exercise.

6. Medical knowledge

The duties of a healthcare assistant may include performing basic patient diagnostic tasks, such as drawing blood or recording vital signs. Having basic medical expertise can help you efficiently perform your duties. Being able to perform basic medical procedures also allows nurses and doctors to focus on more complex tasks. Consider reading medical journals and attending online courses to increase your foundational knowledge and stay updated on the latest industry trends.

7. Time management

Time management helps healthcare assistants in organising and prioritising patient care, administrative duties, educational commitments and personal responsibilities. Healthcare assistants also undertake a variety of clerical work daily, making time management very crucial. It's crucial that you can accomplish jobs in a timely fashion while also staying organised.

8. Administrative skills

A routine day as a healthcare assistant may include answering phones, organising appointments and welcoming patients. Employers prefer qualified healthcare assistants who can efficiently perform these daily administrative chores. You can mention your previous administrative duties on your CV, even if the role is unrelated. For example, if you previously worked as a receptionist, include it on your CV and describe how you utilised software to plan, reschedule, and cancel appointments successfully.

Related: What Does a Clinical Nurse Do? (With Salaries and Skills)

9. Cleanliness

Maintaining a high standard of cleanliness is essential for a healthcare setting. Patients often have compromised immune systems, making them more prone to infections. It's important for healthcare assistants to understand how to keep instruments clean and practice doing so regularly. Sterile equipment is critical for patient safety.

10. Attention to detail

Record-keeping is an essential aspect of working as a healthcare assistant and it's critical to ensure proper application of treatment plans. Medical professionals require proper records of any operations a patient has had or medications they're taking to make more informed treatment decisions. It's often the healthcare assistant's responsibility to note these treatments and prescriptions for future reference. A qualified healthcare assistant pays close attention to detail to maintain accurate records.

11. Computer skills

Because many healthcare assistant responsibilities are administrative, healthcare assistants may spend a significant amount of time using a computer. An organisation may use scheduling software, online filing systems and digital forms. If any of your previous duties involved using computers, you can consider highlighting them in your CV to show your proficiency with technology.

12. Following protocols

Healthcare facilities often have many strict protocols designed to keep the workplace and patients safe. Healthcare assistants may need knowledge on how to deal with infectious diseases, the proper way to fill out paperwork and the right way to bill customers. Nursing managers may show new healthcare assistants a facility's protocols, but having prior experience in other healthcare settings can help you gain an advantage when searching for a new job in this field.

Frequently asked questions about healthcare assistants

Below are the frequently asked questions about healthcare assistants:

Who does a healthcare assistant report to?

Employers often expect healthcare assistants to perform their daily tasks with minimal oversight. They may report to nursing staff about the status of patients under their supervision. They may also provide information for doctors by updating electronic charts regularly.

Are there opportunities for advancement as a healthcare assistant?

The healthcare industry has many roles. Gaining the right certification may allow healthcare assistants to transition to other specialisations, such as becoming a registered nurse. They could also pursue administrative roles, such as becoming healthcare administrators and managers. To advance in this career, you may complete additional training or earn additional qualifications.

What's the difference between a healthcare assistant and a support worker?

The two jobs are quite similar and may have overlapping responsibilities. The primary distinction is their daily working environment. Hospitals hire healthcare assistants, and they generally work in a healthcare service setting. Families of patients may hire support workers to work in their homes or at residential care facilities. The tasks are typically the same but often depend on the facility.

What are the experience requirements for a healthcare assistant?

Individuals aspiring to become healthcare assistants can benefit significantly from prior experience in healthcare roles. Volunteer experience in a hospital environment can also impress hiring managers, as it shows you have a familiarity with the work environment. If you want to work as a healthcare assistant, you can try contacting the Hospital Authority to see if there are any volunteer or part-time opportunities.

How can you improve your healthcare assistant skills?

If you want to develop the necessary skills to succeed as a healthcare assistant or are currently working as one and want to improve, there are several ways of doing so. If you have no experience, you can seek employment in similar roles, such as a social worker. You can also seek volunteer opportunities to assist the elderly. Practical application is great for developing your skills and can also give you an idea of how well-suited you are for this occupation.

Where do healthcare assistants work?

One advantage of working as a healthcare assistant is the wide range of prospective employers and environments. While hospitals and clinics are the most common employers of healthcare assistants, you may also work in:

  • private practices

  • clients' homes

  • care centres for the elderly

Related: What Does Nurse Do? Understanding the Role of a Nurse in Healthcare

How much do healthcare assistants earn?

The average salary for a healthcare assistant is $16,215 per month. Your salary may vary depending on the type of healthcare facility you work in, including whether it's a government or private organisation. Other factors, such as education, certifications and experience, may also affect your earning potential.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles