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Most Important Qualities a Doctor can Possess?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by 12loser12, Nov 26, 2006.

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  1. 12loser12

    12loser12 7+ Year Member

    Oct 29, 2006
    What qualities make the difference between a doctor, and a really good doctor? Why?
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  3. medhopeful6996

    medhopeful6996 Banned Banned

    Nov 21, 2006
    I'll have to say the most alluring quality that separate a doctor from a "good" doctor would have to be, in broad terms, his/her social or communication skills with the patients. This constitutes both verbal and non-verbal (body language) communication. Some geniuses out there with their 3.0 GPAs might argue that one's intellectual prowess may also be a factor which would make him stand out from his doctor colleagues. While this may certainly be true to some extent, when you take into account the fact that the medical profession is ultimately a service profession (you are after all SERVING your community) you can understand why a intellectual yet relatively socially inept doctor (how s/he got in I don't know) with poor communication with his/her patients will not fare very well. Having stated this, these are some great qualities for a good doctor:
    - should be a role model (a doctor who tells his/her patients to quit smoking should not be seen smoking outside the hospital 5 minutes after the patient leaves.. where's the intergrity in this right?)
    - should be able to communicate in a way the patient understands (not going off on the properties of amino acids... etc. etc) as this may come out as arrogance
    - IDEALLY should follow up on his patients ... give them phone calls to see how they're doing
    - a doctor should be WILLING TO TEACH!!... this goes along very well with preventive health care. The doctor should give the patients the fishing rods, rather than the fish. If a doctor knows how to teach his/her patient what to do and what not to do, the doctor will be able to help the patient change his lifestyle for the better so that the patient doesn't have to keep coming back.
    ... there are quite a few but they're all along the same lines of communication
  4. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    Although medicine is caged in science, it is really largely a personal service field. Thus the really good doctors are those who can best relate, empathize and communicate with patients. To some extent this is why there is such a big push at med schools to accept diverse, well rounded individuals who handle themselves well in interviews, rather than simply those who score well, and probably the reason that the number of non-sci majors and nontrads increase at med schools each year, and the average age is creeping slowly upwards. So IMHO a "doctor" would be one who is technically proficient in the medical science and procedural skills, while "a really good doctor" is someone who has these, plus the patient relationship skills.
  5. gersh489

    gersh489 2+ Year Member

    Aug 27, 2006
    I have to say that I would put two skills ahead of communication.... if a doc isn't intelligent, and isn't ethical... it doesn't matter how well he or she can communicate. I would much prefer that an antisocial but technically excellent surgeon opperated on me than a buffoon who doesn't know right from wrong, but can talk up a storm!:scared:
  6. somemaybedoc

    somemaybedoc ms0 7+ Year Member

    Jul 4, 2006
    I tend to agree, communication is important, but if you don't know your stuff and lie, that's a big problem.
  7. inside_edition

    inside_edition Waitlisted Member 2+ Year Member

    Jul 6, 2006
    lol, nice comment especially considering your userpic.
  8. sTriVe2sTitCh

    sTriVe2sTitCh 2+ Year Member

    Nov 16, 2006
    not 2 be a prick...but i think u mean 4.0
  9. PEN15

    PEN15 Member 5+ Year Member

    Jan 25, 2005
    intelligence > communication > compassionate (or you can try and fake it. if you're smart, that shouldn't be a problem.)
  10. sheepunite

    sheepunite Member 5+ Year Member

    Oct 17, 2005
    filling out your duke secondary?

  11. afterthought

    afterthought 7+ Year Member

    Jan 12, 2006
    My thoughts exactly :)
  12. paranoid_eyes

    paranoid_eyes 2+ Year Member

    Sep 18, 2006
    i think the most important quality is for a doctor to be very good at curing patients. communication too, but i think ability is much more important.
  13. Ethics and clinical knowledge. Beyond that, the rest is just fluff and not really necessary, i.e. I'd rather be taken care of by an ethical prick with damn good clinical skills than a silver tongued ass kisser who is OK at his job.
  14. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    Many great doctors will never "cure" their patients. There are entire specialties dedicated to alleviating pain, and/or dealing with degeneration where curing is simply not going to happen.
  15. gersh489

    gersh489 2+ Year Member

    Aug 27, 2006
    True... but what is your point in this context? If I go to a doc because I need to deal with degeneration or alleviate pain... I would still rather that he or she was extremely knowlegable/skilled and ethical rather than a good communicator. If I go to a pain clinic I hope that the clinician I see knows of all of the latest and greatest drug therapies availible and this would be more important to me than that clinician's ability to communicate with me about those therapies.

    Would you realy go to a charming emotionally supportive doc who's medical talent was just "o.k.", over a boarish but brilliant one?
  16. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    My point was simply to respond to the prior poster who said "curing" was the most important quality. Here's my reasoning:
    In numerous situations, where nothing real can be done for a patient (which is not a rarity in medicine, I'm afraid) a doctor who shows empathy and interest and lends the patient a sympathetic ear is providing the maximum benefit that can be provided. There are a wide variety of ailments for which there is no cure and no therapy.
    And even if there is a therapy, unless the patient is wealthy or lucky, it is not all that unusual for him to not have access to "the latest and greatest drug therapies available" even if his clinician were well versed in them. In any event, because few doctors are at the forefront of therapeutics, you may be doing a lot more communicating about the latest and greatest drug therapies, and helping your patients apply to various clinical trials, than actually providing them.
    So yes, IMHO, I still think "communication" trumps "curing" in terms of good, day to day, doctoring. This is not to say that it trumps competence or ethics, because obviously those things are critical as well. I would say that ethics is more critical to being a good human being than a good doctor, and without being a good human being, being a good doctor (or any sort of good professional) would be an impossibility.
  17. Karina 07

    Karina 07 Banned Banned 5+ Year Member

    May 1, 2006
    Imho, communication trumps technical curing because without communication you very often can't cure.

    - Without communication, people can keep doing things that had them end up with the disease in the first place (especially when half of us die of heart disease).

    - Without communication, people can end up in serious trouble, I mean I knew a doctor who doesn't follow up with patients even when someone called and called and kept asking for help.

    Yes, you need someone proficient to carry out an operation. But that operation isn't going to help you if you do stupid things later that make you require a second operation, and a third.... Or if you don't understand that you have to exercise caution over the next 2 weeks or whatever, because it wasn't really explained very well.

    Both are critical. "Hey, you have kidney failure, so lay off on x, y, z" isn't going to make you better if what you need is dialysis.

    But, you know, sometimes communication is the only way of curing, just like technical expertise is sometimes the only way. But I think that communication is the only way of curing more often than technical expertise is the only way of curing. If you're absolutely great at communication, maybe you could convince a lot of people to stop eating wrong, and they can reverse their heart disease from that (yes, reversing is possible, non-surgically, in many, many cases, just from altering diet). If you're absolutely great at technical stuff, but nothing else, then you could cure (with no people returning for the same problem later)... uh... those who had some kind of accident that they couldn't do anything about, like a train wreck? :p I'm just thinking that if heart disease is perhaps the biggest medical problem, then the cases where just communication does the most good have to outweigh the cases where just technical proficiency does the most good.
  18. DrZeke

    DrZeke yzarc gniog ylwolS 10+ Year Member

    Apr 25, 2005
    All this is really good we help all those people who call that black mangled pulp in their chest a heart succeed on their interviews...darn...


    But, one thing I would add the word doctor = teacher. So, all those qualities that make a good teacher help with being a good doctor.
  19. LastOneStanding

    LastOneStanding Future fodder 5+ Year Member

    May 3, 2006
    Bean town
    Hey what about leadership and communication in the dynamic of teamwork!! Do you think docs draw all the bloods, make sure the pts get meds in house, ect. Docs are leaders of a healthcare team, a leader but part of a team that without the support of they wouldn't be doing squat (diddily squat!).

    Communication isn't just for pts, you have to aptly communicate to the nurses, PA's, other docs, and whoever. and the leadership to make tough decisions, stick to them, and make sure that everyone is on board and stuff gets done.

    so i nominate leadership, communication, and technical skills as the big three qualities...

    [edit] how does law2doc's make his posts non-stop hits of pertinent info?
  20. eternalrage

    eternalrage Even Kal has bad days... 10+ Year Member

    Jun 22, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    After raw intelligence, communication skills, teaching skills, etc. - things that make a professional - what makes a good one is how much of your own humanity you hang on to. After being raped by insurance companies, lawyers, and even sometimes patients and anyone else willing to take a crack at you, how human you are may separate you from either a bitter practitioner or a brainwashed drone on an assembly line to pump out patients.

    I just got done reading Mount Misery - and yes I know it is fiction and that many people hate the book or love it - but the message of the book was pretty powerful, that no matter what the pressures from what ever powers that be, no matter what hells you yourself put your soul through, if you're not remotely human when you are sitting in front of a human who's asking for help, there will be no connection, despite any vast intelligence or awesome communication skills you may have.
  21. 8744

    8744 Guest

    Dec 7, 2001
    The ability to not automatically jump across the room and punch somebody who starts the Emergency Department history with, "I have fibromyalgia."

    If you can manage that you can manage anything.
  22. eternalrage

    eternalrage Even Kal has bad days... 10+ Year Member

    Jun 22, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    Damn, I don't have that ability.
  23. MJB

    MJB Senior Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    I'd have to go with communication/relationship building and the ability to adapt.

    As my mentor has told me on numerous occasions, patients that like you are far less likely to sue you...and medicine is much more of an art than a science in many cases.
  24. lilnoelle

    lilnoelle Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    warm hands... and according to a few male friends, small fingers j/k

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