A few ideas on what makes a good doctor

Whilst attending my school’s MedSoc a doctor from outside school lead a discussion in which we discussed “what makes a good doctor?”. I thought I would share some of the ideas presented in our discussions:

Our schools thoughts on attributes of a good doctor:

  • Compassionate
  • A good listener
  • Good at articulating their words with clear, precise and understandable explanations
  • Decisive
  • Show strong signs of professionalism in terms of confidentiality
  • Able to recognise their own personal limitations of knowledge and be able to accept help from colleagues
  • Level headed with a strong focus
  • Empathetic
  • Confidence which does not be perceived as arrogance
  • Attentive
  • A strong and advanced knowledge
  • Thorough
  • Someone who would never be discriminatory towards a patient, treating them all with equal respect

Sir Peter Rubin, chair of the GMC (general medical council) said:

“Doctors have the enormous privilege of touching and changing lives. Through all the changes driven by research and public expectations, some of the art and science of medicine has endured down the ages and defines medicine as a profession, whatever a doctor’s area of practice.  Doctors:

  • synthesise conflicting and incomplete information to reach a diagnosis;
  • deal with uncertainty – protocols are great, but doctors often must work off-protocol in the best interests of the patient, for example when the best treatment for one condition may make a co-existing condition worse;
  • manage risk – many patients are alive today because doctors took risks and as doctors we bring all our professional experience to bear on knowing when acceptable, informed and carefully considered risk ends and recklessness begins – and we share that information openly and honestly with our patients, always respecting that the final decision is theirs;
  • recognise that change both in medicine and society is constant, ensuring that those standards which are immutable are preserved while those that are simply a product of their time are consigned to history
  • carry and accept ultimate responsibility for our actions. “

Another nurse said:

“To me and my patients I have always found the following qualities essential ingredients for the making of a good doctor:

  • Approachable, confident, decisive, intelligent, interested, compassionate and caring – being able to absorb people’s pain and anxieties without losing focus, treating patients as a human being rather than a symptom or collection of symptoms.  Their integrity is without question.
  • Takes time to listen and communicate honestly and effectively with patients, relatives, staff teams, managers, peers and dignitaries pitched at the appropriate level whilst putting everyone at ease.
    Respect for everyone’s capabilities and their contribution to the team.  Knowing everyone’s name in the team regardless of their position.  Being fair and non-judgmental.
  • Having technical skills, being competent, knowledgeable using evidence based practice.  The ability to remain calm and proficient when under pressure and still make clear and timely decisions.
  • Inspiring, always learning and teaching without fear of humiliation, lead and train the team as a team.
  • Trustworthy, loyal, dedicated, thorough, a mentor, reliable, respected rather than revered and dedicated to up holding their Hippocratic Oath.
  • A visionary leader who is confident about their standards and stands firm to up hold their and the team’s values and beliefs.

A great doctor knows and remembers his/her patients and treats them with a kind heart and gentle hands as if they were one of their own family, dedicating their working life of service to creating and preserving health.”

All doctors that have spoken at our weekly MedSoc have stressed the concept that you must treat the patient and not the disease and as stressed by the visiting doctor the communication aspect of being a doctor is becoming increasingly more important. People skills were once overlooked in the past, now they reign the list of the most important qualities of a good doctor.

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