What are some skills needed to be a doctor?
“But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career.” – Bryan Mills.
Doctors are medical professionals with years of education and training that allow them to diagnose and treat patients with many illnesses.
The sheer number of hours spent training to become a physician reflects their abilities as doctors. However, the skills required to be a good doctor aren’t only those acquired inside the classroom.
Let’s break these extra skills into two categories:
Hard skills are skills specific to a career. These abilities are usually measured in some concrete way.
It can mean clinical expertise, foreign language proficiency, or familiarity with information and communication technology for someone in the medical field.
Hard skills are often the first thing employers look for when evaluating potential employees.
These skills are the more subjective, hard-to-define abilities that contribute to being an influential doctor.
Soft skills are based on good interpersonal relationships, leadership qualities, and conflict resolution, amongst other things.
While many of these skills seem to come down to personality, things like good bedside manners can be learned and refined!
Why are both skill sets needed to be a good doctor?
As a doctor, you’ll need both hard and soft skills to get a job and be effective in your role.
An excellent professional attitude that demonstrates an ability to work well with others will get you far in an interview.
Still, your medical knowledge and clinical decision-making skills are put to work once you’re in a hospital.
Let’s cover some of these skills in context.
Can you effectively communicate information?
Communication is one of the many essential skills to have as a doctor. A single day at work involves:
- Explaining diagnoses and treatment plans to patients and family members.
- Relaying information to your fellow team members.
- Presenting cases to seniors.
In a clinical setting, it is vital that the information you pass on be accurate, precise, and framed appropriately for its intended audience.
Not only is your way of communicating important, but you must also ensure that you are leaving yourself open to feedback, questions, and constructive criticism if necessary.
After all, every interaction we have builds a relationship, and we should leave room for back-and-forth interaction.
How well do you work with others?
Collaboration is essential to good healthcare delivery. No doctor works alone.
An interdisciplinary team consists of doctors, nurses, social workers, administrative officers, and other healthcare professionals.
You will be interacting with your colleagues daily, so you must work well together. Good leaders contribute to a beneficial team dynamic by delegating tasks and mediating any conflict.
It’s critical that you feel comfortable taking charge when necessary, leading by example, and supporting others when things don’t go as planned.
Showing human and robust leadership abilities will help bring out the best in your team, inspiring patients’ trust.
Before we ever set foot in a hospital, we have already gone through years of schooling, medical school, a grueling exam process, and beyond.
While most of this has already proven the work ethic needed to be a good doctor, more is to come in the professional world.
Long hours, weekend shifts, night shifts, and working on holidays are all expectations at the outset of your career. However, the motivation and drive to do the job to your fullest ability must be there.
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As doctors, we must be confident in our decisions and instill that confidence in our patients.
When you operate from a place of confidence, you instill that confidence in your team, and confident teamwork leads to excellent patient care.
Doctors can have all the medical knowledge globally, but they cannot treat their patients properly without compassion.
Often, we meet people in their most vulnerable moments. But, fundamentally, doctors must care about their patients’ well-being deeper.
They need to know that there is someone with them every step of the way.
Compassion is what gets you out of bed at 2 AM on call to help someone in need, help a combative patient, and hold someone’s hand during challenging diagnoses.
It may seem like people skills, and teamwork is the same concept, but people skills determine how you will adjust to the diverse personalities you encounter as a doctor.
You must interact effectively with people of various ages, cultures, and walks of life because no two patients will be the same.
Furthermore, you will probably encounter disturbed, enraged, and possibly hostile patients and family members.
You will find yourself better positioned to avoid any potential issues by possessing outstanding people skills.
We must take a certain amount of stress for granted when entering the medical profession: long hours, complex patients, challenges at the hospital, and mortality.
Stress and burnout are natural consequences of our job and can sometimes have devastating results.
It is crucial to find a way to manage our stress outside of work to prevent feeling overwhelmed and improve our mental well-being.
These will vary from person to person, but you must figure out what works best to stay afloat in these situations.
Exercise is a great way to manage stress both psychologically and physiologically. Those with a more creative bent may want to try out some form of art.
Professional standards may vary depending on where you work, but there are some basic principles we must adhere to in all settings. These basics include being courteous, appropriately dressed, and respectful.
Staying organized is also a good habit to maintain as superiors and colleagues will expect attention to detail and punctuality.
While your life outside of work is your own, being a doctor comes with certain public expectations.
That doesn’t mean you have to be a straight arrow 100% of the time, but maintaining integrity outside of work and keeping your social media clean are good rules to keep in mind.
Passion is not exactly something we can learn.
You must have a passion for medicine that drives you to complete medical school and makes you willing to give up parts of your personal life to work on weekends and holidays.
Most people become doctors because they already have the passion for surviving 14-hour-or-longer shifts and associated stressors.
But even if you do not have a deep, inborn passion for the field, you must at least find parts of it that drive you and excite you. A big paycheck will not keep you going if you are miserable at your job.
Everyone knows medical students have it tough.
We must manage our time, social life, personal life, and professional life, often demanding much. So join us at MedSmarter and let us help you hone your skills for a successful career in medicine!