All doctors are humans—they are not perfect, and (chances are) you may already have had at least one bad experience with the qualities of a good doctor. As a patient, you have the right to leave a doctor that you do not like, and to find another who is more suitable.
There are some extreme cases, where doctors are plagued by greed and practice bad ethics. However, there are also more subtle instances in which doctors may appear to be doing their job but fail to provide the best patient care service possible. As you look for a good doctor,
Here are nine specific qualities of a good doctor to seek out.
Your doctor should not disrespect your concerns or your lack of knowledge about a subject; they should be able to patiently, holistically and reasonably explain conditions and treatments. At the same time, while the education and training that doctors undergo are intensive and highly respectable, doctors should not exude an arrogant attitude. The way a doctor interacts with nurses and other employees may also indicate how the doctor typically treats patients.
Patients are often already in a nervous and anxious state at the doctor’s office, especially when confronted with an unknown or painful condition. A doctor should not get too excited and increase the patient’s nervousness. Rather, the doctor should present information without too much emotion, avoiding the extremes of communication (including sugarcoating or over-dramatizing bad news).
Not only should the medical professional be supportive of the patient, but they should also be supportive of the patient’s family, providing advice and encouragement along the way. Familial conflicts are natural when a significant health concern arises, and the doctor should be empathetic towards both parties. At the end of the day, however, a doctor needs to advocate and want the best for the patient.
4. Mindful of their knowledge
While years of undergraduate studies, graduate school, and hands-on training prepares doctors for their occupation, they should be aware of the limits of their background—science is always evolving, and medical training can never fully prepare someone for the endless possibilities of unforeseen medical cases. Additionally, qualities of a good doctor should be able to acknowledge that as a result of human nature, they too are susceptible to error.
5. Good listener
Find a doctor who listens to both the concerns of the patient and the patient’s family. Frequently, concerned loved ones will seek out information on their own to empower themselves with understanding, and come up with questions to raise to the doctor. Families and patients may not have the same medical background, and can misinterpret their research; at the same time, however, doctors should avoid quickly discrediting the research and knowledge of the patients.
Qualities of a good doctor should also be aware of the patient’s desires and opinions about decisions. By truly listening to the patient, the doctor will be able to empathize and see the patient’s point of view, empowering them to ultimately communicate as effectively and as considerately as possible.
Especially in emergency cases, patients may experience a significant amount of fear due to their confusion. Doctors need to reassure their patients and assuage fears, not by promising good outcomes but by offering clear explanations of what’s to come and making promises to do their best.
While being a doctor is a profession, doctors should nonetheless be genuinely interested in their field and genuinely interested in the patient. Pay attention to a doctor who not only remembers your name or your medical condition, but also a small fact about yourself. You may come across several doctors who attempt to make small talk, but very few actually remember the conversations and unique stories of their patients.
Honesty is the key to building a strong foundation in the relationship between a doctor and a patient. As mentioned, doctors should not sugarcoat diagnoses but should communicate truthfully. Qualities of a good doctor should also be able to honestly express their predictions or their lack thereof; medicine is extensive, and doctors should not artificially manufacture a prognosis.
9. Makes you feel comfortable
Finally, you should be able to confide in your doctor and openly express your concerns without the fear of judgment. Qualities of a good doctor will not make you feel bad about yourself or make you feel like you have to do something that violates your values. Furthermore, you should be able to trust that your doctor will honor the doctor-patient confidentiality code and respect your privacy.
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