What Makes a Good Doctor?

What are the Good Qualities of a Doctor

Being a doctor is not just a career but also a calling. You will have to withstand long working hours, devastating events around you, and frustrations when dealing with patients who do not follow instructions.

We all know how difficult it is to choose the right career path, especially if you want to be the best at what you do.

Choosing to become a doctor does not, by itself, prove personal qualities, but the necessary qualities for doctors can be acquired.

Here are some tips about the qualities you need to have to make it in the medical field.

Here are the 14 Good Qualities of a Doctor

1. You Have to Care (Genuinely)

This is perhaps the first and most essential quality of a doctor. If you do not care about yourself and others, you will not be able to provide quality healthcare to your patients. They care deeply about their patients and the practice of medicine.

Many doctors are very passionate about their work. When speaking with them, don’t hesitate to ask about their experiences and why they enjoy their work.

Several qualities make a good doctor, two of which are communication skills and a caring attitude.

However, you must also consider whether your personality suits the job.

As a doctor, you will interact with people from all walks of life, each with their unique problems and expectations.

Some may be polite, others rude; some grateful for your help, others hostile – perhaps even violent.

You take care of people when they are at their scariest and most vulnerable. Therefore, you should be able to do your job while showing sympathy, concern, and compassion.

2. Communication is Key

Effective communication is crucial in medicine, not only for interacting with patients but also for collaborating with other healthcare professionals. It involves listening actively, explaining medical information clearly, and demonstrating empathy. Good communication enhances patient understanding, treatment adherence, and overall care satisfaction. It is a skill that can significantly impact patient outcomes and the quality of care provided.

Sometimes, your patients cannot speak and tell you their feelings. You need to be able to see concerns that need to be addressed and anticipate impending problems.

Of course, you also want to know how to speak to your patients in a way that doesn’t aggravate their condition.

Your communication skills take different forms but your smile is probably the most important.

A hearty and genuine smile will comfort your patients and assure them that you care about them.

3. Be Empathic

Sometimes, empathy, compassion, and care are confused as the same thing, but the truth is that they are different.

Empathy is your ability to hear and share your patients’ feelings. For a physician, this does not mean you must always agree with what a patient or their family thinks.

Also, you do not want to internalize your patients’ suffering and pain just for your self-preservation.

You must differentiate between empathy and understanding your patients by taking their pain and making it your own.

Empathy is one of the most important qualities in any healthcare professional’s tool kit. It has been argued that empathy is more important than technical ability for doctors.

It is essential for building trust with your patients and improving their treatment experience.

This quality can be difficult to develop from scratch, but if you don’t believe you are naturally empathetic, there are ways to train yourself.

For example, role-playing exercises can help develop empathy by allowing you to imagine yourself in another person’s shoes.

A good physician makes each patient feel important, not judged, seen, and heard, and respected for their perspectives, life experiences, and values.

4. Pay Attention to Detail

As a health practitioner, you know that paying attention to detail is vital when it comes to the provision of health care.

Even in the busiest environment, you want to be detail-oriented to ensure your patients get the best.

Doctors have to pay attention to details to diagnose patients properly.

They must know the difference between symptoms of an upper respiratory infection and the flu to prescribe the right medication.

Doctors are also required to note small changes in their patients’ conditions so they can properly adjust any necessary medications or treatments.

When you do this, it will be easier to notice even the slightest changes in your patients and act accordingly and promptly.

5. Have Problem-solving Skills

A good doctor should exercise great judgment as well as think fast.

Remember that no two patients will be the same, so you will constantly try to customize care and solve problems for each patient.

As such, the last thing you want is to be set in your ways, as healthcare provision can be unpredictable and dynamic. You should be willing to adapt to unforeseen circumstances.

You will find yourself juggling hectic schedules and demands and even with that, you will be required to respond to unexpected events all while making sound decisions.

To succeed in medicine, you need to be able to solve problems.

Not only is medicine a problem-solving process (diagnosing and treating disease), but a doctor’s day-to-day job also involves solving lots of practical problems.

For example, a patient might not understand what you’re telling them or be refusing the treatment. Or there might be a shortage of beds on the ward.

You need to find ways of dealing with these situations.

You’ll also encounter problems when organizing your time and workload.

For example, you need to fit in everything from writing prescriptions and making phone calls to seeing patients and filling out forms—often with conflicting deadlines!

Physicians need strong problem-solving skills because their work is often unpredictable. They may encounter unfamiliar medical problems or new situations that require quick thinking.

6. Be Respectful

Making decisions on the job can be a complex balancing act, and when it comes to healthcare provision, respect goes a long way.

Regardless of what you are forced to deal with, you are called upon to honor boundaries and respect everyone around you.

When you respect nurses, co-workers, patients, and their families, you are bound to receive the same in return.

You demonstrate this quality by maintaining a professional demeanor, being mindful of confidentiality, and having a high regard for your patients’ wishes.

A good doctor should be friendly and professional. For example, they should treat their patients with respect. Doctors who are rude and arrogant will not earn the trust of their patients.

Good communication is also important, as this can help build rapport and improve patient satisfaction.

Doctors should also listen carefully to their patients, ask questions to understand the problem and provide clear instructions on what to do.

A doctor needs to develop respect for their patients and their opinions, as well as their abilities.

Treating people with respect is vital, even if you disagree with the choices they make or their beliefs.

7. Keep Learning

Technology continues to advance and so does medical knowledge.

In that regard, any physician worth their salt should have a great sense of curiosity that steers them to keep learning new things and improve their knowledge and skill.

This will ensure you give your patients the best and present them with all viable options to help them reclaim their good health.

Continuous learning is a key quality for doctors, who must keep up with studies, research and developments in their field.

They also need to learn about new techniques, treatments, and technology. This trait is important for doctors because they must provide the best care for their patients.

A doctor must continue to learn throughout his or her career to stay current on changing technology and advances in medicine.

This means being able to absorb new information and apply it effectively quickly.

8. Leadership

Being a doctor often means that you make vital decisions. Sometimes you must make a final decision, such as if or not to perform a procedure.

Instructing your subordinates on what to do and when is also up to you.

Therefore, this role involves a lot of responsibility, so you need to be certain that you can be a leader who steps up and takes charge when necessary.

Remember that you might be tired and overloaded with tasks when required to be a leader.

Sometimes, making decisions can be daunting, and your subordinates might disagree.

It’s crucial that you can evaluate situations quickly and take on board differing opinions from your team members.

But you will have to make the final decision and ensure your team agrees. There is a fine line between authoritative and dictatorial.

9. Stress Management

Stress is part of being a doctor, from dealing with demises and long hours to a little downtime and hospital issues such as understaffing.

All these factors create a toxic working environment that can weigh down on you.

If you don’t have proper stress management techniques, you might be overwhelmed and unable to execute your duties normally.

So, figuring out what works best for you during a stressful period is crucial to keep your head above water.

Perhaps running clears your mind or meditation during work breaks or after work.

Whatever it is, you do ensure that you cope with stress so that it doesn’t take over your work and personal life.

10. Professionalism

Medicine is a very noble field but keep in mind that being a doctor is a job before anything else, so professionalism is key. This means being attentive, courteous, and polite.

Like any other job, complaints can be raised, and you are reprimanded for being unprofessional to your colleagues or patients. So, you must maintain good behavior while at work.

Something else to remember is to be punctual and file any required paperwork because not doing so could have profound implications.

As a doctor, you’ll be held to high standards even outside your place of work.

This doesn’t mean you need to be serious 24/7, but it may require you to maintain professionalism in public and keep your socials clean.

11. Honesty

Honesty is crucial in medicine and is advocated by the American Medical Association, but challenges in maintaining honesty can arise in complex situations.

Unfortunately, modern medicine can lead you to a gray area where the most helpful thing to say in a tense situation with a patient might not be the most truthful.

A study showed some doctors believe in certain situations, not being entirely truthful may be considered, but it’s not a stance endorsed broadly across states.

In fact, more than 10% of them admitted to lying to patients over the past year.

12. Courageous

As a doctor, you’ll face everyday situations that call for moral courage, such as caring for an infectious patient, conversing with an angry patient or family member, addressing a colleague’s incompetency, disclosing a medical error, and raising concerns about unsafe practices.

Do not be disheartened if you don’t always meet these high expectations.

Remember that being courageous isn’t necessarily the act of trying to do what’s right sometimes; it can be simply the act of trying.

13. Optimism

As a doctor, do you inspire optimism in your patients? Generally speaking, patients who are optimistic or who have someone instill optimism in them have better health outcomes.

Optimism has been linked with various physical health benefits, from reduced risk of cardiovascular illnesses and stroke to enhanced levels of antioxidants and lipids.

While optimism can be associated with healthier behaviors, individual results and behaviors vary.

For instance, optimistic people are likelier to eat healthily, work out, manage their stress levels better, and abstain from retrogressive behaviors like smoking.

Therefore, as a physician, you should always inspire optimism in your patients, especially those who seem discouraged or frustrated by their condition.

Good Qualities in a Doctor

Good Qualities in a Doctor

14. Humility

As a physician, you must be approachable and available with your colleagues and patients. This means that your patients never feel rushed despite overscheduling and time limitations.

Listen to everything they have to say without preemptively voicing your opinion. You must be willing to admit uncertainty and ask questions.

As a physician, you learn with each passing day, and such situations should strengthen your resolve.


How do I become a doctor?

A doctor has enormous responsibilities toward their patients. To become a doctor in the US, you must enroll in a pre-medical course and perform well on exams. You must engage in different productive extracurricular activities. Applicants must pass the MCAT to apply to medical schools.

Is it possible to find a perfect doctor?

There is no such thing as a perfect doctor. However, an ideal doctor is someone who is fully aware of their professional responsibilities and limitations. A doctor must be able to provide high-quality care, pay close attention to every detail, and be sympathetic and considerate of their patients.

What is a resident doctor?

A medical resident is a doctor in training who has graduated from medical school and is completing further training in a specialized area of medicine, typically in a hospital under supervision, not generally in doctor's offices. Their primary responsibilities are to deliver proper diagnosis, management, and quality treatment to their patients.

Final Thoughts

Being a doctor is not just about having a medical degree and working in a hospital. Certain qualities make you a good doctor or even a great one.

A doctor’s qualities are intangible but essential for being respectful, compassionate, and trustworthy.

While some come naturally to you, others must be developed over time.

Practicing in the medical field is not easy. However, by following the tips above and adapting all the qualities discussed, you should easily navigate the job.

See Also

How to Become a Pediatric Surgeon

Non Clinical Physician Jobs

Physician Assistant Jobs

Highest Paid Surgeons

Benefits of Telehealth

Current Version
November 29, 2021
Written By
Shubham Grover
March 31, 2024
Updated By
Franco Cuevas, MD

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