What are the most important traits that med students need to acquire to become better physicians? – Part 1

November 27, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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On a nursing placement in Africa If you were due to visit a doctor and you had an option of which physician to go to, what would you base your choices on? 

When asked, a group of people all listed the same features that they thought were important in their doctor. Most people also admitted that they would choose to go or not go to a doctor based on whether or not they had these desirable traits.

As you begin your journey into this field, here are some of the most important traits that you should try and inculcate if you want to be respected and loved by your patients.


Be a good communicator

Communication is crucial in medicine. Good communication skills will help your patients feel comfortable with you and start to trust you. This will help your patients open up and give you as much information as possible. The more information you have, the more effective the treatment that you mete out. Better outcomes and happier patients eventually lead to loyal patients.

Communication is also important in dealing with colleagues and other medical professionals who may be caring for the patient at the same time. Very often patients’ symptoms may overlap and they need to be treated by multiple specialists who need to communicate with each other to make sure that none of the treatments are contradicting the other. 


Be empathic

Being ill can be scary. Along with getting treated for their symptoms, most patients are also looking for someone to ‘hold their hand’ and try and understand what they are going through. Empathetic doctors are able to put themselves in their patient’s shoes and understand what the patients and their loved ones are going through. Looking at things from a patient’s point of view helps you to explain things more easily and put their mind at ease. Empathising with a patient makes them feel more comforted and less anxious, which in turn increases the odds of a better prognosis.


Be professional in the workplace

However close a doctor is to their patient, it is important to maintain a certain standard of professionalism. While there are no explicit parameters regarding professionalism, it generally means dressing and acting appropriately and maintaining decorum in the workplace. Wearing shorts and slippers on the job may not make you any less efficient than a doctor who is dressed formally but the fact is, you will get much less respect than you deserve. Patients instinctively have more faith and confidence in doctors who are well mannered, dress formally and conduct themselves professionally and the bottom line is, you need your patients to trust you and have faith in you.