How to Tell if a Hospital’s Culture is Right for You

How to Tell if a Hospital’s Culture is Right for You


When a healthcare professional is on the cusp of a new job, one of the things foremost in their mind is trying to find out as much about it as possible before making any commitment. You can never know for sure what a job will be like until you are working in it, but you can get pretty close with some judicious investigation work. Health Jobs Nationwide, an online healthcare recruitment service, advise that this research needs must consist of a multi-pronged approach. You must find out about the employer, the likely terms of your contract, the income and benefits, the quotidian experience of working there, and the hospital’s particular culture.

The last of these is naturally one of the hardest to have straightly and consummately answered. The idea of “culture” is, by its nature, a pretty nebulous one. The income question can be answered by a single numerical figure; the terms of contract are set out in black and white and how an employer operates can be pretty easily surmised too. A hospital’s culture, on the other hand, takes the form of the general impression created by a number of diverse and intersecting factors. Nevertheless, you should certainly take pains to find out about it.

What is a Hospital’s “Culture”?

So, what does “culture” actually mean in the context of a hospital? Like the “corporate culture” that we often here about in relation to some other places of employment, a hospital’s culture is the sum total of all the intangible things which cannot be neatly summarized or calculated. If we are speaking loosely, it could be said that a hospital’s culture is the general “vibe” of the place.

To be a bit more exact, a hospital’s culture is made up the behavior of the employees, how they treat one another, the relationships that are fostered, and everything else that is created by the working conditions of the place. To complete this difficult definition, the culture of a hospital will always be one degree removed from the values of a hospital. The culture of a hospital always reflects the values behind it.

For example, if a hospital encourages overtime and hard work by paying it appropriately, then it could be said that the hospital has a strong culture of work, with the values of effort and commitment reflected in the practices (i.e., encouraging and rewarding overtime), which in turn create the culture. This is just one discrete example though, and there will always be many more factors than this informing the culture of any institution.

How to Find About a Hospital’s Culture

As you might have surmised then, a hospital’s culture will not become 100% clear until you actually start working there. However, you can gain a good deal of insight into it beforehand. The interview is the main place for doing this, and you should be sure to ask judicious questions which will help you find out about the hospital’s culture. Examples might be, “Is spending time in the hospital’s public canteen encouraged or should I avoid patients when not on the job?”, or “Is it preferred that I take my holiday at a certain time?”. None of these questions will give you the full picture, but you can construct something of a blurry image by asking enough of them.

After that, you should compare the “feel” you get at the interview (and on day visits) with how you imagined your ideal job. If the two align, then you could very well be in luck. There is a lot to be said for gut instinct.