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What Makes a Good Doctor? The 7 Key Traits of The Ideal Doctor

A Good Doctor - Mega Scan Centre

According to a study in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings of 2006, there appears to be 7 key traits that patients regard as important when judging the quality of their doctors. The qualitative survey asked patients during telephone interviews to describe their best and worst experiences with their doctors and here are the key characteristics they identified:


Patients said, "The doctor's confidence gives me confidence." They felt a lot more secure with a doctor who was confident about his/her diagnosis and treatment plan.


Patients said, "The doctor tries to understand what I am feeling and experiencing, physically and emotionally, and communicates that understanding to me." In their words, patients said, "We want doctors who can empathise and understand our needs as a whole person. ... We want to feel that our doctors have incredible knowledge in their field. But every doctor needs to know how to apply their knowledge with wisdom and relate to us as plain folks who are capable of understanding our disease and treatment."


Patients said, "The doctor is caring, compassionate, and kind."


Patients said, "The doctor is interested in me more than just as a patient, interacts with me, and remembers me as an individual." The social interaction is just as important as the clinical interaction and doctors who establish a rapport with their patients gain their trust more quickly.


Patients said, "The doctor tells me what I need to know in plain language and in a forthright manner." Many doctors use medical language when addressing their patients and forget that most people did not attend medical school and will not be familiar with medical terms. Others, try to soften the impact of 'bad news' and attempt to 'brighten' the situation with re-assuring words that leave patients more skeptical and confused.


Patients said, "The doctor takes my input seriously and works with me." Patients appreciate doctors who address all their concerns no matter how small or petty they may appear from a clinical point of view.


Patients said, "The doctor is conscientious and persistent."

In a dipstick survey conducted by Mega Scan Centre, 100% of respondents said that the presence of experienced doctors in a clinic/hospital is the most important factor when selecting a medical service provider. Although non of the above traits lists the experience and knowledge of the doctor as a detrimental factor when looking for an ideal doctor, researchers believe that this highlights the difficulty of judging the technical ability of a doctor by the common folk.

These were the characteristics identified by US patients in 2006. Are these traits still applicable today? More importantly are they universally agreed on across the globe? Do patients in the UAE prefer a forthright doctor who will break the 'bad news' straight out or the one who will reassure them with the words "Don't worry, In Shaa Allah everything will turn out OK"?

Will the Dubai blue collar worker prefer the conscientious thorough doctor who will advise him/her to gargle with warm salt water to relieve the discomfort of a sore throat or the one who immediately prescribes medication? Will you prefer the confident doctor who progresses with an agressive treatment plan or the one who makes a recommendation and advises you to seek a second opinion?

Let us here your thoughts!

Adapted from Miranda Hitti's article in WebMD

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