What Makes a Good Doctor?
July 11, 2018
expect in their physicians
By Doug Bennett,
Competency, communication, compassion, confidentiality and
convenience—“the five C’s”—are the most desirable qualities patients expect
when seeking care from physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners and allied
No one likes to wait a long time for an appointment or to travel
a long distance when in need of medical attention. It is the one time in life when
time feels most precious. But recent studies show the average waiting time to
see a physician in major U.S. cities is now 24 days. Because of this, patients
increasingly expect physicians to offer early morning, late afternoon, evening,
and weekend hours. They also expect brief wait times and more immediate access
to physicians or advanced practitioners who utilize options like telemedicine.
Some patients, particularly the elderly and disabled, are demanding the
convenience of physicians who make house calls—an old school approach that has
experienced a comeback in recent years. Trying to accommodate patients by
offering more convenient access is one way to become a better doctor.
With so much emphasis in recent years placed on ensuring the
privacy and security of patient medical records, confidentiality might seem
like a given. But not all physicians or other healthcare professionals remain
vigilant about protecting the confidentiality of their patients’ data and
information. Compliance with current HIPAA and other regulatory guidelines is
crucial for all health workers.
One way to keep up with current best practices is to
routinely check the HIPPA Index for the latest trends in
patient data security and confidentiality. Keep in mind that failure to comply
action, so it is paramount to stay on top of developments in this area. If you
do nothing else, be certain to keep patient medical records secure and never
discuss patient medical information with non-essential personnel.
Perhaps the most difficult yet most important time in a
physician’s career is when it becomes necessary to convey a terminal diagnosis
to a patient. Patients need compassion; however, compassion doesn’t always come
naturally to physicians who must share bad news. The good news is that
compassion can be learned. Research shows that physicians who participate in
programs that practice experiential learning skills—such as role modeling—were
more humane and compassionate with their patients than physicians who did not
participate. Again, compassion can be learned, and it is a crucial
characteristic of a good doctor.
Patience is the key to good meaningful communication with
patients. Patients immediately sense when a doctor is in a hurry or isn’t
willing to spend time explaining complex medical concepts in a clear, cogent
way. Studies show that patients who rate their physicians low on communication
skills and bedside manner are more likely to switch to another physician. Patients
also can confuse a physician’s poor communication skills with incompetence,
which is often not the case.
It is incumbent upon physicians to slow down and take a
little extra time to ensure patients and their families fully comprehend the
information being shared, and to reassure patients that their concerns or fears
are being heard and taken into consideration. A physician who possesses good
communication skills can improve health outcomes for patients. Studies
demonstrate that the quality of communication occurring during history-taking and
the initial evaluation, as well as when treatment plans are conveyed, all
directly influence patient outcomes.
Patients rightfully expect their physicians to make correct
diagnoses, select the best treatment approach, perform any necessary procedures
and follow up after treatment. So, what can physicians do to sustain consistent
high levels of competency? It helps to ask at least once each day—and certainly
before each patient interaction—“What can I do to be a better doctor?” This
ritual helps reframe your thinking so you remember to approach each case with a
fully open mind, thereby reducing the risk of making an incorrect diagnosis
based on assumptions or preliminary diagnoses made by other staff or the patients
Become the best doctor you can become by taking advantage of
Merritt Hawkins’ unparalleled healthcare staffing resources. We offer over 20 years
of experience recruiting and placing physicians in rewarding career positions.
Please browse through our extensive online jobs database and call today to
speak with one of our professional placement specialists.
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