Ever since I was a medical student almost four decades ago, I have been closely studying the characteristics of a great and successful doctor that differentiates them and makes them stand out from the rest of the crowd. After a lot of thought, based on my observations I feel the mantra for becoming a great doctor consists of:
Compassion, Empathy and People Skills:
You should feel for your patients and listen to what they have to say, even if you think it may not help you in your professional assessment. Doctors who get irritated or angry with their patients will never ever be respected. In a modern society there is absolutely no role for arrogant doctors. Always treat your patients with dignity and never for a moment believe that they are inferior to you in any way.
Be well informed and upgrade your skills and knowledge. However nice or pleasant you are, no one will respect you if you are not competent enough.
Apolitical, Non-communal and Unbiased:
As a doctor one has to be unbiased when dealing with patients irrespective of their caste, creed, affiliations and socio-economic status. Do not let your personal feelings come in the way of your interaction or treatment of the patient.
Lead by example. Always command respect and never demand respect. Encourage your junior doctors and nurses but delegate responsibility with accountability, supervise and build teams. Look at collective glory than individual excellence.
Ethical Practice of Medicine:
A simple litmus test for ethical practice is: Never do anything to the patient that you would not do to yourself or to your family, be it unnecessary tests, medication or procedures.
Monetary benefits alone cannot be considered as the be-all and end-all of success. Be considerate and empathise with the weaker sections of the society; you do this and the patients will follow you and so will your success and wealth.
Most importantly, you will never be a good doctor unless you are a “Good Human Being.”
Dr. H. Sudarshan Ballal MD, FRCP (UK)
Board Certified in Int Medicine, Nephrology & Critical Care (USA)
Medical Director & Chairman – Medical Advisory Board,
Director – Manipal Institute of Nephrology & Urology