Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Personality plays a large role in many different careers - it's no difference in the medical world. If you have a good personality, patients often like you better and think you're a better doctor. Similarly, if other medical colleagues get along with you well, they usually think more highly of you as a clinician. This all leads to more referrals, by patients and doctors alike. I think personality is supremely important in a doctor, and certainly is part of being a good doctor - you don't want a clinician who is callous or unfeeling, or someone who does not deliver bad news well.

However, personality is not everything. I think many good clinicians often lack in the personality area, or at least the empathy/sympathy area simply because they are too busy. And unfortunately, many times patients will label them as bad doctors because they don't like their attitude or the way they present themselves. I think that's totally valid, but I also think sometimes patients may be losing out on very good care because they may be too demanding and not understanding enough of their doctors.

I think it's even worse when other medical professionals assume that someone is a good doctor just because they get along with them well, or that person has a good personality. I've met plenty of people who I like to hang out with, but who I don't necessarily thing are the best clinicians. I don't necessarily think they're horrible, or even bad, but some people think they're great because they are really easy and fun to get along with, and I just think they're ok clinicians. I think that first and foremost, a doctor has to be a good clinician (making good clinical decisions, etc) and then secondly, should be empathetic and have good relationships with his patients. If the doctor can do both well, then that's great, but the first characteristic is the most important.

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