6 Essential Traits


If you're considering studying medicine, you will surely want to know the difference between how to be a doctor and how to be a good doctor. Becoming a doctor is not something that happens overnight - it is a serious commitment which takes years to qualify and leads into a lifelong profession. Before you apply to study medicine, we think that you need to know which personality traits are essential to being a caring and successful doctor, so we've compiled this list of six essential traits that will help you to be a great doctor and help you to see if you are you cut out to study medicine! This is by no means all that you will need to be a good doctor, but it is a step in the right direction if you feel that you already possess most of these traits. If not, then you know what you should look to develop before you begin studying medicine.

A good doctor should be...


It is of the utmost importance that you behave professionally in all your conduct. Your medical education will probably involve a discussion about what professionalism means and what you need to do in practice, but there are a couple of key concepts which are universal.

Doctor-patient confidentiality is extremely important. It is a fundamental strand of medical ethics. This also involves maintaining a professional distance from your patients. They need to feel safe in your company to disclose information at their discretion, and they need to be sure that anything they say will not leave your office.

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Q. Are you bad at keeping secrets and a bit of a gossip? If so then perhaps this is not the profession for you.  

Equally important is respect and fairness. A good doctor must be able to treat all patients equally, regardless of their ethnicity, lifestyle choices or conduct. Your job is to treat your patients, not to judge them. You never know who may be the next person to walk into your waiting room may be - whether it is a member of the royal family or a down on their luck homeless man, it is important to give each patient the same care and attention that you would expect from your doctor if you were in their shoes.


Doctors must maintain their professionalism at work at all times

Read Our Interview with a GP - February 2016


Research has shown that patients who feel that their doctor has made a genuine empathetic connection - an attempt to understand how they feel and how their condition is affecting their everyday life - will actually experience a reduction in pain. If a patient feels they are being cared for by the right doctor who has taken an interest in their wellbeing, their body will suppress their awareness of the pain and they will experience a faster recovery. 

Conversely, the stress of having a bad doctor who doesn't show an interest can actually prolong the patient's suffering. Empathy is a very powerful thing and is an essential part of any doctor's bedside manner.

Q. Do you find it easy to understand the problems of your friends, even if there is nothing that you can do to help them with them? If so, this is a good sign that you have a higher than average level of empathy which is required to be a good doctor.

Read Our Interview with a Junior Doctor - January 2016


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