Patient Care: Top Qualities That Make a Doctor a “Good Doctor”

When you were in pre-school or kindergarten, there was one question that the teacher would ask every student.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s almost like asking this question is the key to success in the world of kindergarten teachers, and if you don’t ask the class that question, you’re a horrible teacher… Nonetheless, typical answers to the question included fairy princesses, police officers, firemen, and of course, doctors.

For the kids who said they wanted to be a doctor when they grew up, it’s pretty safe to assume that they didn’t put one thought into what it would actually take to be a good doctor. It’s not until you get older that you really start to think about your career and your purpose. Once you get into medical school, that’s when you start honing in on your true life’s calling.

Some people choose to become a doctor because they like helping people, and some choose to become a doctor because they are determined to be the change the world needs in medicine. But regardless of the motivation behind becoming a doctor, the only thing that really matters is if you’re a good doctor or not.

So how can you tell if you’re a good doctor or not? Well, a lot of times you can tell just from how your patients respond to you. Then again, some qualities of a good doctor are learned in medical school. But there are also certain character traits that can’t be learned… Certain traits that make you a good doctor are traits you have to have within you as a person.

Ideally, you need a combination of all these traits to be a good doctor. Take a look at these qualities every doctor must have to be considered as a good doctor.

Qualities That Make a Good Doctor

Compassion For Your Patients

To have compassion for your patients is to ask how much do you care about your patients. Sure you may have the knowledge and skill set to treat and cure your patients but none of that matters without compassion.

Compassion is actually one of those qualities you need to have within yourself to even succeed in the medical field period. If your motivation to become a doctor is for financial gain, you won’t last very long.

The welfare of your patients should be your number one concern. With some patients, you’re treating them at a very vulnerable stage in their life and every word you say to them is going to hold weight with them… they need to trust and know that you have their best interests at heart and that they’re not going on the journey alone.

Ability to Lead By Example

The ability to lead by example is something that can be displayed from a doctor-to-patient point of view and from a doctor-to-staff point of view as well.

If you have your own practice, you, of course, want to lead your staff in displaying professionalism and being able to make important decisions, even when others may disagree with you. Your staff needs to see that they have a strong leader and that will in turn strengthen your team as well.

As for doctor-to-patient, leading by example is a true display of compassion for your patient. A doctor in Grand Rapids actually gained 22 pounds just to inspire people, including patients, to lose weight and the importance of taking care of your body.

That’s not saying that you need to put on 22 pounds to teach your patients the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. But what you can do is be transparent with your patients on certain things. If you’ve had a personal experience similar to what they’re going through, if you feel comfortable enough, you can share your experience with them to let them know that they’re not the only person going through it or that has experienced it.

Great People Skills

Having great people isn’t the same as effectively communicating, and all too often, people get the two confused. To have great people skills means that you can adapt to the different people and personalities you meet and communicate in a way that they’re receptive to what you’re saying.

The way you communicate and interact with a patient isn’t going to be the same way you communicate and interact with a member of your staff. But according to Forbes, however you interact with patients, staff, family members, it has to be done with a personal touch.

When it comes to certain subject matter, especially with patients and family members, your approach in conveying the message could mean the difference in acquiring a loyal patient and losing a patient because you rubbed them the wrong way.


It doesn’t matter how many open positions in family medicine or cardiology there are, if you don’t have the qualities of a good doctor, you won’t go very far in your career. Take the time out to really think about the reason you chose the medical field in the first place.

If you possess all or most of these qualities, you have the makings of a good doctor. Any areas that you’re lacking in, that’s okay, as long as you’re willing to improve those areas, that’s still a sign of being a good doctor because you’re willing to improve for the good of your patients.

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