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What Makes a Good Doctor? 7 Surprisingly Useful Skills for

It requires some serious intelligence and motivation to get accepted into medical school. As students work their way toward becoming practicing physicians, they develop even more qualities that equip them to be successful in the field.

So what makes a good doctor?

To find out, we spoke with a few physicians to learn more about what makes a quality doctor—and it’s not your medical school GPA. Their insight can help you better understand what it is that distinguishes a great physician and if you would want to be a doctor.

7 ESSENTIAL QUALITIES OF A GOOD DOCTOR

Being a great physician requires more than high exam scores and knowledge of medical terms. Learn about the lesser-known characteristics the best doctors share.

1. GOOD DOCTORS ARE GOOD COMMUNICATORS

“Being a good listener is critical to being a good doctor,” says Dr. John Madden, an Emergency Physician and Director of the Office of Career Guidance and Student Development at St. George’s University (SGU) School of Medicine. “Patients will tell you what’s wrong if you just let them speak.”

“Being a good listener is critical to being a good doctor.”

After all, good communication isn’t just for being friendly with patients. It’s also one of the most vital doctor skills because it helps physicians to understand their patients’ concerns and explain a diagnosis.

“They should answer questions using language that is clear without using too much medical terminology,” says Dr. Lisa Doggett, a family physician. “They should be honest but also offer hope, even when a situation is difficult. And they should help their patients feel empowered to improve their own health.”

2. GOOD DOCTORS ARE ORGANIZED AND CONSCIENTIOUS

Children are taught from a young age to practice organization in order to be successful in school. And for good reason — one can’t succeed in medicine without presence of mind and being vigilant about details.

“A doctor needs to make sure that her patients get recommended screening tests, that their questions are answered, and that patients have a clear plan of action upon leaving her office,” says Dr. Doggett. “She must be vigilant about following up on any tests that are done and communicating those results.”

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