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Dr Prabhjot Gill: What makes a good doctor?

Not all heroes wear capes. It’s true: they wear medical suits, masks, stethoscopes. We call them doctors, and they save the world every day. Even more than before, since Covid-19, Doctors have been continuously in the public eye, sharing opinions, giving statements, and advising people. Indeed, it’s a well paid and noble job, but to be a good Doctor takes much more than the desire to gain money. So, what makes a good Doctor? Ask Dr Prabhjot Gill about it.

Image: Expatica

1. Strong empathy

Besides finding the right treatment for a patient, a good Doctor makes sure he or she supports their patient morally and encourages them to stay positive, as the given cure will do its job.

2. Listens and understands

We are all human beings and we have our weaknesses. Some treatments prohibit certain foods, drinks, or other harmful vices. There will be times when people slip off and give in to their cravings. If they confess to their doctor, he/she will not judge, punish, and discourage. Instead, he/she will remind the patient how important it is to forgive themselves for the mistake and try to keep on track, motivating them to continue on the right way.

3. Patient Agenda

A good Doctor treats thousands of people throughout his life. He/She keeps track of their progress, making sure he/she clarifies all of their doubts at every appointment.

When people get sick, fear sets up in their souls, and they see their doctor as the only person who understands their pain. They trust their Doctor, therefore they ask a lot of questions, and they share their fears. A good Doctor will never get tired or annoyed when answering the same questions to the different patients. Even if he/she does, they will never show it. He will be a trustworthy friend.

Image: Vancouver Island Free Daily

4. Holistic approach

No matter their specialising, a good Doctor will provide complete support to their patients. He/She will advise them not only to take their treatment properly, but also to look after themselves by practicing self-love, patience, seeing the bigger picture, and enjoying life despite the temporary pain. A good Doctor makes the patient see the situation overall, and not put their entire energy in analysing the hard parts of life, as it would only cause useless distress.

6. Honesty

A good Doctor will always be honest with his/her patients, but will also choose the right words. Reality can be harsh enough, so a good Doctor will not sugar-coat the truth, but neither contribute to the already existing pain with inconsiderate words.

7. Respecting patient’s wishes

Let’s say a disease is easier to treat after a surgery. If a patient refuses to go under surgery, then a good Doctor will simply respect the patient’s wish and won’t insist. Surely, he/she will present the pros & cons of taking surgery, but in the end, the patient has the last word. To substitute the benefits of the surgery, a good Doctor will suggest alternatives to help the patient.

8. Shared management plan

Even though a good Doctor has all the needed knowledge to keep the treatment going well, he/she will still communicate with the patients and will make sure he/she knows their habits, routines, and needs, to find the most suitable way for each of them to follow the treatment properly.

9. Ethical principles

Being a good doctor means being a good human that acts according to ethical principles: autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice are just several mandatory aspects a doctor keeps in mind when treating their patients.

10. Available in emergencies

If a patient with serious problems called in the middle of the night for an emergency, a good Doctor would pick up the phone and help. In most hospitals there are always an on call doctors covering the 24/7 rota to provide care round the clock. This scenario can be seen in the context of the current global pandemic, where so many good Doctors sacrifice their life to save others.


Dignity, respecting the patient and his privacy, and finding the optimal treatment, are definitory qualities to refer to a good Doctor. Luckily, there are many good Doctors, and we are grateful.

“Dr Prabhjot Gill MBBS MRCGP(2016)

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