Melissa is your typical nursing assistant who reports for duty on time. She meticulously follows the nursing care plans and diligently takes care of patients. Melissa’s co-workers describe her as shy and soft-spoken. She is well-loved and seems to resonate with most people, often giving people short but sincere compliments and reassurances.
But many times, Melissa is not really keen on socializing with her fellow staff. She prefers to have her lunch sitting comfortably in a corner by herself. She’d also find every excuse to skip off-duty get-togethers, always saying, “I’ll join you next time.” She talks to her patients mostly during vital signs measurement and she tends to smile more than speak.
Melissa is an introvert working in a predominantly extroverted world of healthcare.
So we dropped some big words here, ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’. What do these terms mean?
To be clear on their definition, an introvert is someone who is comfortable being alone, and uneasy interacting with a group of people. Socializing is a big effort because it drains their energy. They tend to be reserved, shy, and reflective.
An extrovert is the complete opposite. They are outgoing and outspoken. An extroverted person prefers being in groups rather than being alone. They enjoy conversations and activities with others and they engage with people with ease.
Now, we know that to survive a career in healthcare as a CNA, you need to build healthy working relationships. To do this, you are expected to interact with patients and co-workers. So, is being an introvert a downside to this job?
While some tasks, such as starting a conversation with others is a huge challenge to overcome, being an introvert brags some kind of power all on its own. Unfortunately, introverts are often misunderstood.
Here are some insights to shed more light on this type of personality.
Myth: Introverts lack communication skills.
Power #1 Introverts may hesitate to start a conversation but will engage if needed or prompted to.
As a nursing assistant, introverts know that they have to ask patients how they are feeling or other similar questions. And they definitely will. Introverts do talk less, but they listen with the full intent of understanding and empathizing with their patients. They listen with a lot of heart. When an introvert engages in a conversation, it is usually short but sincere.
Myth: Introverted people are disconnected from the outside world.
Power #2 Though it may be true that the outside world is overwhelming to them, it does not mean that introverts care less.
On the other hand, introverts care so much but they only tend to keep to themselves. Introverted people are highly observant, too. If they are not talking, they’re just thinking deeply. Since introverts are naturally calmer and quieter than their extrovert counterparts, they are more aware of many things happening around them. Introverts have strong intuitions so they'll have a pretty good idea why a patient is suddenly giving everyone a cold shoulder. They can also anticipate patient needs. The result? Improved patient outcomes. They can readily spot troubled co-workers, too.
Myth: Introverts make bad leaders.
Power #3 Introverts make excellent leaders.
It is generally agreed that successful leadership usually requires excellent people skills. Extroverts can easily fill this requirement because they can drive people to act through proper interaction. What about an introvert? Interestingly, an introvert can lead by being a good example. They are team players and can outperform anyone if they put their mind to it. Introverts can use their 'less talk, more action' demeanor to give those they lead more freedom to decide on their tasks.
Is this article 100% about you? If so, here are some valuable tips that can define your personality even more:
If a group collaboration has drained your energy, take time to recharge even if it means enjoying a cup of coffee alone in some empty hallway. You need your energy boost to get your bearings back and resume taking care of patients.
2. Train yourself to switch to being an extrovert on an 'as needed' basis.
Yes, you can absolutely do this! Break the ice! Although making the first move seems like a death sentence, put on a game face when necessary.
This does not mean changing you on the inside. It is merely putting on a hat and a mask which you can take off when a situation does not call for it anymore. This will make you step out of your comfort zone temporarily but it gets important socialization tasks done.
3. Smile more and let your presence be a source of comfort for the patients.
Some patients tend to keep to themselves, too. These patients prefer to be alone but they would almost always welcome someone’s gentle presence. As an introvert, you can sit and stay with them. This is a powerful way to tell them that you truly care.
4. Contribute to team efforts.
Your keen observations and attention to detail are a gem to improving patient outcomes. If voicing out concerns is too difficult, consider writing letters or emails instead.
5. Keep at least one close friend at work.
It's good to have someone who accepts you for who you are. A true friend will understand why you wouldn't attend a party. They’ll support you when you need help.
There is power in being an introvert. Use this strength to deliver quality patient care. You can lead with your unique style. You can definitely shine!
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