Developing these skills is good for patients and doctors, say Naomi Engel and colleagues
Mention of “non-technical skills” is typically met with a blank stare or a dismissive rejection of “soft skills.” Hopefully this article will change your perceptions and inspire you to develop these skills before you graduate.
The concept of non-technical skills has only recently been introduced to health care—its origins are non-medical. In the 1970s, after several aeroplane crashes, investigators looked for causes. They found that these weren't related to poor knowledge or technical problems: failure in the pilot and crews' non-technical skills were the key underlying factors.1 Subsequently, poor or inadequate use of these skills has been identified as a key cause of many industrial disasters. Well known examples include the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the explosion on the Piper Alpha oil platform, and the crush at Hillsborough football stadium.2
Non-technical skills are a combination of cognitive (for example, decision making) and social skills (for example, team