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What Makes a Good Doctor? 7 Surprisingly Useful Skills for Physicians

What Makes a Good Doctor? 7 Surprisingly Useful Skills for Physicians

It requires some serious intelligence and motivation to get accepted into medical school . As students work their way toward becoming practicing physicians, they develop even more qualities that equip them to be successful in the field.

So what makes a good doctor?

To find out, we spoke with a few physicians to learn more about what makes a quality doctor—and it’s not your  medical school GPA . Their insight can help you better understand what it is that distinguishes a great physician and if you would want to be a doctor.

7 Essential qualities of a good doctor

Being a great physician requires more than high exam scores and knowledge of medical terms. Learn about the lesser-known characteristics the best doctors share.

1. Good doctors are good communicators

“Being a good listener is critical to being a good doctor,” says Dr. John Madden , an Emergency Physician and Director of the Office of Career Guidance and Student Development at St. George’s University (SGU) School of Medicine. “Patients will tell you what’s wrong if you just let them speak.”

“Being a good listener is critical to being a good doctor.”

After all, good communication isn’t just for being friendly with patients. It’s also one of the most vital doctor skills because it helps physicians to understand their patients’ concerns and explain a diagnosis.

“They should answer questions using language that is clear without using too much medical terminology,” says Dr. Lisa Doggett , a family physician. “They should be honest but also offer hope, even when a situation is difficult. And they should help their patients feel empowered to improve their own health.”

2. Good doctors are organized and conscientious

Children are taught from a young age to practice organization in order to be successful in school. And for good reason — one can’t succeed in medicine without presence of mind and being vigilant about details.

“A doctor needs to make sure that her patients get recommended screening tests, that their questions are answered, and that patients have a clear plan of action upon leaving her office,” says Dr. Doggett. “She must be vigilant about following up on any tests that are done and communicating those results.”

3. Good doctors are empathetic and make patients feel cared for

Patients don’t care about their physician’s medical school grades or other accolades—they want to feel that they are in good hands. A good doctor knows how to make a patient feel as though they are being cared for, that their concerns are valid, and that they are being heard.

“The patient isn’t just a list of medical problems and medications.”

“Patients care more that their doctor actually cares for them than how many papers they’ve published,” says Dr. Edna Ma, an anesthesiologist at 90210 Surgery Medical Center . “Caring can be in the form of active listening and asking open-ended questions.” This doesn’t need to be limited to the reason for the visit, either. “The patient isn’t just a list of medical problems and medications,” Dr. Ma adds.

4. Good doctors are curious

When presented with befuddling symptoms, a good doctor should allow their inherent curiosity to lead them to an accurate diagnosis, even if it means tapping into additional resources.

“That may require extra research, reaching out to colleagues, or taking more time to gather a detailed history from the patient,” Dr. Doggett says. Taking these extra measures is important, she elaborates, to avoid making incorrect diagnoses.

good doctor essay

5. Good doctors are collaborative

Being a good communicator is critical not only for working with patients but also for relaying information across the health care system. Consider that when a patient goes to the hospital, their primary care physician often doesn’t learn of their visit unless they are informed by the patient or a family member.

“A good hospital-based doctor will call or send a note to the primary care physician to let them know the patient has been admitted,” Dr. Doggett explains. “The primary care doctor should then make an effort to gather hospital records and offer timely follow-up after discharge.” Similarly, a good medical specialist will involve a patient’s primary care doctor in any diagnoses or treatments.

6. Good doctors are persistent in advocating for their patients

Good doctors do whatever it takes to help meet their patients’ needs. Whether that means helping them navigate the health care system by finding specialists or acquiring the prescriptions they need, they should be willing to provide that support.

“A good doctor will be a strong advocate for their patients,” Dr. Doggett notes. She says this can entail helping patients in getting prescription medicine, securing an urgent appointment, enrolling in a patient assistance program, or accessing necessary services like physical therapy. The best doctors are willing to go the extra mile for their patients’ well-being.

good doctor essay

7. Good doctors have great bedside manner

Good bedside manner is more of an approach and combination of skills than anything, but Dr. Madden says it’s what separates a great physician from a good one. “Physicians should be personable, great listeners, and empathetic to the concerns of their patients,” he elaborates. “They should not be condescending or arrogant. They should treat others as they want to be treated.”

“Physicians should be personable, great listeners, and empathetic to the concerns of their patients.”

Start developing these key doctor skills

There is no single ingredient that makes a good doctor, but working to hone each of these physician skills can help put you on the path to a successful career in medicine . Additionally, many of these competencies are important for getting into medical school in the first place.

If you’re eager to discover more about how you can work toward gaining acceptance to a program, read our article,“ A Sneak Peek at the Medical School Application Process .”

Ready to go above and beyond?

Are you considering St. George’s University Medical School? If you need any more convincing, just reach out to some graduates or current students . They’re happy to tell you what their experiences were like.

If you feel like SGU could be the right medical school for you, take the next step. Continue your research by visiting our request information page.

*This article was originally published in April 2018. It was updated in 2021 to include additional information.

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10 Successful Medical School Essays

Sponsored by.

good doctor essay

-- Accepted to: Harvard Medical School GPA: 4.0 MCAT: 522

Sponsored by A : Great stats don’t assure acceptance to elite medical schools. The personal statement, most meaningful activities, activity descriptions, secondaries and interviews can determine acceptance or rejection. Since 1994, has guided medical applicants just like you to present compelling medical school applications. Get Accepted !

I started writing in 8th grade when a friend showed me her poetry about self-discovery and finding a voice. I was captivated by the way she used language to bring her experiences to life. We began writing together in our free time, trying to better understand ourselves by putting a pen to paper and attempting to paint a picture with words. I felt my style shift over time as I grappled with challenges that seemed to defy language. My poems became unstructured narratives, where I would use stories of events happening around me to convey my thoughts and emotions. In one of my earliest pieces, I wrote about a local boy’s suicide to try to better understand my visceral response. I discussed my frustration with the teenage social hierarchy, reflecting upon my social interactions while exploring the harms of peer pressure.

In college, as I continued to experiment with this narrative form, I discovered medical narratives. I have read everything from Manheimer’s Bellevue to Gawande’s Checklist and from Nuland’s observations about the way we die, to Kalanithi’s struggle with his own decline. I even experimented with this approach recently, writing a piece about my grandfather’s emphysema. Writing allowed me to move beyond the content of our relationship and attempt to investigate the ways time and youth distort our memories of the ones we love. I have augmented these narrative excursions with a clinical bioethics internship. In working with an interdisciplinary team of ethics consultants, I have learned by doing by participating in care team meetings, synthesizing discussions and paths forward in patient charts, and contributing to an ongoing legislative debate addressing the challenges of end of life care. I have also seen the ways ineffective intra-team communication and inter-personal conflicts of beliefs can compromise patient care.

Writing allowed me to move beyond the content of our relationship and attempt to investigate the ways time and youth distort our memories of the ones we love.

By assessing these difficult situations from all relevant perspectives and working to integrate the knowledge I’ve gained from exploring narratives, I have begun to reflect upon the impact the humanities can have on medical care. In a world that has become increasingly data driven, where patients can so easily devolve into lists of numbers and be forced into algorithmic boxes in search of an exact diagnosis, my synergistic narrative and bioethical backgrounds have taught me the importance of considering the many dimensions of the human condition. I am driven to become a physician who deeply considers a patient’s goal of care and goals of life. I want to learn to build and lead patient care teams that are oriented toward fulfilling these goals, creating an environment where family and clinician conflict can be addressed efficiently and respectfully. Above all, I look forward to using these approaches to keep the person beneath my patients in focus at each stage of my medical training, as I begin the task of translating complex basic science into excellent clinical care.

In her essay for medical school, Morgan pitches herself as a future physician with an interdisciplinary approach, given her appreciation of how the humanities can enable her to better understand her patients. Her narrative takes the form of an origin story, showing how a childhood interest in poetry grew into a larger mindset to keep a patient’s humanity at the center of her approach to clinical care.

This narrative distinguishes Morgan as a candidate for medical school effectively, as she provides specific examples of how her passions intersect with medicine. She first discusses how she used poetry to process her emotional response to a local boy’s suicide and ties in concern about teenage mental health. Then, she discusses more philosophical questions she encountered through reading medical narratives, which demonstrates her direct interest in applying writing and the humanities to medicine. By making the connection from this larger theme to her own reflections on her grandfather, Morgan provides a personal insight that will give an admissions officer a window into her character. This demonstrates her empathy for her future patients and commitment to their care.

Her narrative takes the form of an origin story, showing how a childhood interest in poetry grew into a larger mindset to keep a patient's humanity at the center of her approach to clinical care.

Furthermore, it is important to note that Morgan’s essay does not repeat anything in-depth that would otherwise be on her resume. She makes a reference to her work in care team meetings through a clinical bioethics internship, but does not focus on this because there are other places on her application where this internship can be discussed. Instead, she offers a more reflection-based perspective on the internship that goes more in-depth than a resume or CV could. This enables her to explain the reasons for interdisciplinary approach to medicine with tangible examples that range from personal to professional experiences — an approach that presents her as a well-rounded candidate for medical school.

Disclaimer: With exception of the removal of identifying details, essays are reproduced as originally submitted in applications; any errors in submissions are maintained to preserve the integrity of the piece. The Crimson's news and opinion teams—including writers, editors, photographers, and designers—were not involved in the production of this article.

-- Accepted To: A medical school in New Jersey with a 3% acceptance rate. GPA: 3.80 MCAT: 502 and 504

Sponsored by E fiie Consulting Group : “ EFIIE ” boasts 100% match rate for all premedical and predental registered students. Not all students are accepted unto their pre-health student roster. Considered the most elite in the industry and assists from start to end – premed to residency. EFIIE is a one-stop-full-service education firm.

"To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The tribulations I've overcome in my life have manifested in the compassion, curiosity, and courage that is embedded in my personality. Even a horrific mishap in my life has not changed my core beliefs and has only added fuel to my intense desire to become a doctor. My extensive service at an animal hospital, a harrowing personal experience, and volunteering as an EMT have increased my appreciation and admiration for the medical field.

At thirteen, I accompanied my father to the Park Home Animal Hospital with our eleven-year-old dog, Brendan. He was experiencing severe pain due to an osteosarcoma, which ultimately led to the difficult decision to put him to sleep. That experience brought to light many questions regarding the idea of what constitutes a "quality of life" for an animal and what importance "dignity" plays to an animal and how that differs from owner to owner and pet to pet. Noting my curiosity and my relative maturity in the matter, the owner of the animal hospital invited me to shadow the professional staff. Ten years later, I am still part of the team, having made the transition from volunteer to veterinarian technician. Saving a life, relieving pain, sharing in the euphoria of animal and owner reuniting after a procedure, to understanding the emotions of losing a loved one – my life was forever altered from the moment I stepped into that animal hospital.

As my appreciation for medical professionals continued to grow, a horrible accident created an indelible moment in my life. It was a warm summer day as I jumped onto a small boat captained by my grandfather. He was on his way to refill the boat's gas tank at the local marina, and as he pulled into the dock, I proceeded to make a dire mistake. As the line was thrown from the dock, I attempted to cleat the bowline prematurely, and some of the most intense pain I've ever felt in my life ensued.

Saving a life, relieving pain, sharing in the euphoria of animal and owner reuniting after a procedure, to understanding the emotions of losing a loved one – my life was forever altered from the moment I stepped into that animal hospital.

"Call 911!" I screamed, half-dazed as I witnessed blood gushing out of my open wounds, splashing onto the white fiberglass deck of the boat, forming a small puddle beneath my feet. I was instructed to raise my hand to reduce the bleeding, while someone wrapped an icy towel around the wound. The EMTs arrived shortly after and quickly drove me to an open field a short distance away, where a helicopter seemed to instantaneously appear.

The medevac landed on the roof of Stony Brook Hospital before I was expeditiously wheeled into the operating room for a seven-hour surgery to reattach my severed fingers. The distal phalanges of my 3rd and 4th fingers on my left hand had been torn off by the rope tightening on the cleat. I distinctly remember the chill from the cold metal table, the bright lights of the OR, and multiple doctors and nurses scurrying around. The skill and knowledge required to execute multiple skin graft surgeries were impressive and eye-opening. My shortened fingers often raise questions by others; however, they do not impair my self-confidence or physical abilities. The positive outcome of this trial was the realization of my intense desire to become a medical professional.

Despite being the patient, I was extremely impressed with the dedication, competence, and cohesiveness of the medical team. I felt proud to be a critical member of such a skilled group. To this day, I still cannot explain the dichotomy of experiencing being the patient, and concurrently one on the professional team, committed to saving the patient. Certainly, this experience was a defining part of my life and one of the key contributors to why I became an EMT and a volunteer member of the Sample Volunteer Ambulance Corps. The startling ring of the pager, whether it is to respond to an inebriated alcoholic who is emotionally distraught or to help bring breath to a pulseless person who has been pulled from the family swimming pool, I am committed to EMS. All of these events engender the same call to action and must be reacted to with the same seriousness, intensity, and magnanimity. It may be some routine matter or a dire emergency; this is a role filled with uncertainty and ambiguity, but that is how I choose to spend my days. My motives to become a physician are deeply seeded. They permeate my personality and emanate from my desire to respond to the needs of others. Through a traumatic personal event and my experiences as both a professional and volunteer, I have witnessed firsthand the power to heal the wounded and offer hope. Each person defines success in different ways. To know even one life has been improved by my actions affords me immense gratification and meaning. That is success to me and why I want to be a doctor.

This review is provided by EFIIE Consulting Group’s Pre-Health Senior Consultant Jude Chan

This student was a joy to work with — she was also the lowest MCAT profile I ever accepted onto my roster. At 504 on the second attempt (502 on her first) it would seem impossible and unlikely to most that she would be accepted into an allopathic medical school. Even for an osteopathic medical school this score could be too low. Additionally, the student’s GPA was considered competitive at 3.80, but it was from a lower ranked, less known college, so naturally most advisors would tell this student to go on and complete a master’s or postbaccalaureate program to show that she could manage upper level science classes. Further, she needed to retake the MCAT a third time.

However, I saw many other facets to this student’s history and life that spoke volumes about the type of student she was, and this was the positioning strategy I used for her file. Students who read her personal statement should know that acceptance is contingent on so much more than just an essay and MCAT score or GPA. Although many students have greater MCAT scores than 504 and higher GPAs than 3.80, I have helped students with lower scores and still maintained our 100% match rate. You are competing with thousands of candidates. Not every student out there requires our services and we are actually grateful that we can focus on a limited amount out of the tens of thousands that do. We are also here for the students who wish to focus on learning well the organic chemistry courses and physics courses and who want to focus on their research and shadowing opportunities rather than waste time deciphering the next step in this complex process. We tailor a pathway for each student dependent on their health care career goals, and our partnerships with non-profit organizations, hospitals, physicians and research labs allow our students to focus on what matters most — the building up of their basic science knowledge and their exposure to patients and patient care.

Students who read her personal statement should know that acceptance is contingent on so much more than just an essay and MCAT score or GPA.

Even students who believe that their struggle somehow disqualifies them from their dream career in health care can be redeemed if they are willing to work for it, just like this student with 502 and 504 MCAT scores. After our first consult, I saw a way to position her to still be accepted into an MD school in the US — I would not have recommended she register to our roster if I did not believe we could make a difference. Our rosters have a waitlist each semester, and it is in our best interest to be transparent with our students and protect our 100% record — something I consider a win-win. It is unethical to ever guarantee acceptance in admissions as we simply do not control these decisions. However, we respect it, play by the rules, and help our students stay one step ahead by creating an applicant profile that would be hard for the schools to ignore.

This may be the doctor I go to one day. Or the nurse or dentist my children or my grandchildren goes to one day. That is why it is much more than gaining acceptance — it is about properly matching the student to the best options for their education. Gaining an acceptance and being incapable of getting through the next 4 or 8 years (for my MD/PhD-MSTP students) is nonsensical.

-- Accepted To: Imperial College London UCAT Score: 2740 BMAT Score: 3.9, 5.4, 3.5A

My motivation to study Medicine stems from wishing to be a cog in the remarkable machine that is universal healthcare: a system which I saw first-hand when observing surgery in both the UK and Sri Lanka. Despite the differences in sanitation and technology, the universality of compassion became evident. When volunteering at OSCE training days, I spoke to many medical students, who emphasised the importance of a genuine interest in the sciences when studying Medicine. As such, I have kept myself informed of promising developments, such as the use of monoclonal antibodies in cancer therapy. After learning about the role of HeLa cells in the development of the polio vaccine in Biology, I read 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' to find out more. Furthermore, I read that surface protein CD4 can be added to HeLa cells, allowing them to be infected with HIV, opening the possibility of these cells being used in HIV research to produce more life-changing drugs, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP). Following my BioGrad laboratory experience in HIV testing, and time collating data for research into inflammatory markers in lung cancer, I am also interested in pursuing a career in medical research. However, during a consultation between an ENT surgeon and a thyroid cancer patient, I learnt that practising medicine needs more than a scientific aptitude. As the surgeon explained that the cancer had metastasised to her liver, I watched him empathetically tailor his language for the patient - he avoided medical jargon and instead gave her time to come to terms with this. I have been developing my communication skills by volunteering weekly at care homes for 3 years, which has improved my ability to read body language and structure conversations to engage with the residents, most of whom have dementia.

However, during a consultation between an ENT surgeon and a thyroid cancer patient, I learnt that practising medicine needs more than a scientific aptitude.

Jude’s essay provides a very matter-of-fact account of their experience as a pre-medical student. However, they deepen this narrative by merging two distinct cultures through some common ground: a universality of compassion. Using clear, concise language and a logical succession of events — much like a doctor must follow when speaking to patients — Jude shows their motivation to go into the medical field.

From their OSCE training days to their school’s Science society, Jude connects their analytical perspective — learning about HeLa cells — to something that is relatable and human, such as a poor farmer’s notable contribution to science. This approach provides a gateway into their moral compass without having to explicitly state it, highlighting their fervent desire to learn how to interact and communicate with others when in a position of authority.

Using clear, concise language and a logical succession of events — much like a doctor must follow when speaking to patients — Jude shows their motivation to go into the medical field.

Jude’s closing paragraph reminds the reader of the similarities between two countries like the UK and Sri Lanka, and the importance of having a universal healthcare system that centers around the just and “world-class” treatment of patients. Overall, this essay showcases Jude’s personal initiative to continue to learn more and do better for the people they serve.

While the essay could have benefited from better transitions to weave Jude’s experiences into a personal story, its strong grounding in Jude’s motivation makes for a compelling application essay.

-- Accepted to: Weill Cornell Medical College GPA: 3.98 MCAT: 521

Sponsored by E fie Consulting Group : “ EFIIE ” boasts 100% match rate for all premedical and predental registered students. Not all students are accepted unto their pre-health student roster. Considered the most elite in the industry and assists from start to end – premed to residency. EFIIE is a one-stop-full-service education firm.

Following the physician’s unexpected request, we waited outside, anxiously waiting to hear the latest update on my father’s condition. It was early on in my father’s cancer progression – a change that had shaken our entire way of life overnight. During those 18 months, while my mother spent countless nights at the hospital, I took on the responsibility of caring for my brother. My social life became of minimal concern, and the majority of my studying for upcoming 12th- grade exams was done at the hospital. We were allowed back into the room as the physician walked out, and my parents updated us on the situation. Though we were a tight-knit family and my father wanted us to be present throughout his treatment, what this physician did was give my father a choice. Without making assumptions about who my father wanted in the room, he empowered him to make that choice independently in private. It was this respect directed towards my father, the subsequent efforts at caring for him, and the personal relationship of understanding they formed, that made the largest impact on him. Though my decision to pursue medicine came more than a year later, I deeply valued what these physicians were doing for my father, and I aspired to make a similar impact on people in the future.

It was during this period that I became curious about the human body, as we began to learn physiology in more depth at school. In previous years, the problem-based approach I could take while learning math and chemistry were primarily what sparked my interest. However, I became intrigued by how molecular interactions translated into large-scale organ function, and how these organ systems integrated together to generate the extraordinary physiological functions we tend to under-appreciate. I began my undergraduate studies with the goal of pursuing these interests, whilst leaning towards a career in medicine. While I was surprised to find that there were upwards of 40 programs within the life sciences that I could pursue, it broadened my perspective and challenged me to explore my options within science and healthcare. I chose to study pathobiology and explore my interests through hospital volunteering and research at the end of my first year.

Though my decision to pursue medicine came more than a year later, I deeply valued what these physicians were doing for my father, and I aspired to make a similar impact on people in the future.

While conducting research at St. Michael’s Hospital, I began to understand methods of data collection and analysis, and the thought process of scientific inquiry. I became acquainted with the scientific literature, and the experience transformed how I thought about the concepts I was learning in lecture. However, what stood out to me that summer was the time spent shadowing my supervisor in the neurosurgery clinic. It was where I began to fully understand what life would be like as a physician, and where the career began to truly appeal to me. What appealed to me most was the patient-oriented collaboration and discussions between my supervisor and his fellow; the physician-patient relationship that went far beyond diagnoses and treatments; and the problem solving that I experienced first-hand while being questioned on disease cases.

The day spent shadowing in the clinic was also the first time I developed a relationship with a patient. We were instructed to administer the Montreal cognitive assessment (MoCA) test to patients as they awaited the neurosurgeon. My task was to convey the instructions as clearly as possible and score each section. I did this as best I could, adapting my explanation to each patient, and paying close attention to their responses to ensure I was understood. The last patient was a challenging case, given a language barrier combined with his severe hydrocephalus. It was an emotional time for his family, seeing their father/husband struggle to complete simple tasks and subsequently give up. I encouraged him to continue trying. But I also knew my words would not remedy the condition underlying his struggles. All I could do was make attempts at lightening the atmosphere as I got to know him and his family better. Hours later, as I saw his remarkable improvement following a lumbar puncture, and the joy on his and his family’s faces at his renewed ability to walk independently, I got a glimpse of how rewarding it would be to have the ability and privilege to care for such patients. By this point, I knew I wanted to commit to a life in medicine. Two years of weekly hospital volunteering have allowed me to make a small difference in patients’ lives by keeping them company through difficult times, and listening to their concerns while striving to help in the limited way that I could. I want to have the ability to provide care and treatment on a daily basis as a physician. Moreover, my hope is that the breadth of medicine will provide me with the opportunity to make an impact on a larger scale. Whilst attending conferences on neuroscience and surgical technology, I became aware of the potential to make a difference through healthcare, and I look forward to developing the skills necessary to do so through a Master’s in Global Health. Whether through research, health innovation, or public health, I hope not only to care for patients with the same compassion with which physicians cared for my father, but to add to the daily impact I can have by tackling large-scale issues in health.

Taylor’s essay offers both a straightforward, in-depth narrative and a deep analysis of his experiences, which effectively reveals his passion and willingness to learn in the medical field. The anecdote of Taylor’s father gives the reader insight into an original instance of learning through experience and clearly articulates Taylor’s motivations for becoming a compassionate and respectful physician.

Taylor strikes an impeccable balance between discussing his accomplishments and his character. All of his life experiences — and the difficult challenges he overcame — introduce the reader to an important aspect of Taylor’s personality: his compassion, care for his family, and power of observation in reflecting on the decisions his father’s doctor makes. His description of his time volunteering at St. Michael’s Hospital is indicative of Taylor’s curiosity about medical research, but also of his recognition of the importance of the patient-physician relationship. Moreover, he shows how his volunteer work enabled him to see how medicine goes “beyond diagnoses and treatments” — an observation that also speaks to his compassion.

His description of his time volunteering at St. Michael's Hospital is indicative of Taylor's curiosity about medical research, but also of his recognition of the importance of the patient-physician relationship.

Finally, Taylor also tells the reader about his ambition and purpose, which is important when thinking about applying to medical school. He discusses his hope of tackling larger scale problems through any means possible in medicine. This notion of using self interest to better the world is imperative to a successful college essay, and it is nicely done here.

-- Accepted to: Washington University

Sponsored by A dmitRx : We are a group of Chicago-based medical students who realize how challenging medical school admissions can be, so we want to provide our future classmates with resources we wish we had. Our mission at AdmitRx is to provide pre-medical students with affordable, personalized, high-quality guidance towards becoming an admitted medical student.

Running has always been one of my greatest passions whether it be with friends or alone with my thoughts. My dad has always been my biggest role model and was the first to introduce me to the world of running. We entered races around the country, and one day he invited me on a run that changed my life forever. The St. Jude Run is an annual event that raises millions of dollars for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. My dad has led or our local team for as long as I can remember, and I had the privilege to join when I was 16. From the first step I knew this was the environment for me – people from all walks of life united with one goal of ending childhood cancer. I had an interest in medicine before the run, and with these experiences I began to consider oncology as a career. When this came up in conversations, I would invariably be faced with the question “Do you really think you could get used to working with dying kids?” My 16-year-old self responded with something noble but naïve like “It’s important work, so I’ll have to handle it”. I was 16 years young with my plan to become an oncologist at St. Jude.

As I transitioned into college my plans for oncology were alive and well. I began working in a biochemistry lab researching new anti-cancer drugs. It was a small start, but I was overjoyed to be a part of the process. I applied to work at a number of places for the summer, but the Pediatric Oncology Education program (POE) at St. Jude was my goal. One afternoon, I had just returned from class and there it was: an email listed as ‘POE Offer’. I was ecstatic and accepted the offer immediately. Finally, I could get a glimpse at what my future holds. My future PI, Dr. Q, specialized in solid tumor translational research and I couldn’t wait to get started.

I was 16 years young with my plan to become an oncologist at St. Jude.

Summer finally came, I moved to Memphis, and I was welcomed by the X lab. I loved translational research because the results are just around the corner from helping patients. We began a pre-clinical trial of a new chemotherapy regimen and the results were looking terrific. I was also able to accompany Dr. Q whenever she saw patients in the solid tumor division. Things started simple with rounds each morning before focusing on the higher risk cases. I was fortunate enough to get to know some of the patients quite well, and I could sometimes help them pass the time with a game or two on a slow afternoon between treatments. These experiences shined a very human light on a field I had previously seen only through a microscope in a lab.

I arrived one morning as usual, but Dr. Q pulled me aside before rounds. She said one of the patients we had been seeing passed away in the night. I held my composure in the moment, but I felt as though an anvil was crushing down on me. It was tragic but I knew loss was part of the job, so I told myself to push forward. A few days later, I had mostly come to terms with what happened, but then the anvil came crashing back down with the passing of another patient. I could scarcely hold back the tears this time. That moment, it didn’t matter how many miraculous successes were happening a few doors down. Nothing overshadowed the loss, and there was no way I could ‘get used to it’ as my younger self had hoped.

I was still carrying the weight of what had happened and it was showing, so I asked Dr. Q for help. How do you keep smiling each day? How do you get used to it? The questions in my head went on. What I heard next changed my perspective forever. She said you keep smiling because no matter what happened, you’re still hope for the next patient. It’s not about getting used to it. You never get used to it and you shouldn’t. Beating cancer takes lifetimes, and you can’t look passed a life’s worth of hardships. I realized that moving passed the loss of patients would never suffice, but I need to move forward with them. Through the successes and shortcomings, we constantly make progress. I like to imagine that in all our future endeavors, it is the hands of those who have gone before us that guide the way. That is why I want to attend medical school and become a physician. We may never end the sting of loss, but physicians are the bridge between the past and the future. No where else is there the chance to learn from tragedy and use that to shape a better future. If I can learn something from one loss, keep moving forward, and use that knowledge to help even a single person – save one life, bring a moment of joy, avoid a moment of pain—then that is how I want to spend my life.

The change wasn’t overnight. The next loss still brought pain, but I took solace in moving forward so that we might learn something to give hope to a future patient. I returned to campus in a new lab doing cancer research, and my passion for medicine continues to flourish. I still think about all the people I encountered at St. Jude, especially those we lost. It might be a stretch, but during the long hours at the lab bench I still picture their hands moving through mine each step of the way. I could never have foreseen where the first steps of the St. Jude Run would bring me. I’m not sure where the road to becoming a physician may lead, but with helping hands guiding the way, I won’t be running it alone.

This essay, a description of the applicant’s intellectual challenges, displays the hardships of tending to cancer patients as a milestone of experience and realization of what it takes to be a physician. The writer explores deeper ideas beyond medicine, such as dealing with patient deaths in a way to progress and improve as a professional. In this way, the applicant gives the reader some insight into the applicant’s mindset, and their ability to think beyond the surface for ways to become better at what they do.

However, the essay fails to zero in on the applicant’s character, instead elaborating on life events that weakly illustrate the applicant’s growth as a physician. The writer’s mantra (“keep moving forward”) is feebly projected, and seems unoriginal due to the lack of a personalized connection between the experience at St. Jude and how that led to the applicant’s growth and mindset changes.

The writer explores deeper ideas beyond medicine, such as dealing with patient deaths in a way to progress and improve as a professional.

The writer, by only focusing on grief brought from patient deaths at St. Jude, misses out on the opportunity to further describe his or her experience at the hospital and portray an original, well-rounded image of his or her strengths, weaknesses, and work ethic.

The applicant ends the essay by attempting to highlight the things they learned at St. Jude, but fails to organize the ideas into a cohesive, comprehensible section. These ideas are also too abstract, and are vague indicators of the applicant’s character that are difficult to grasp.

-- Accepted to: New York University School of Medicine

Sponsored by MedEdits : MedEdits Medical Admissions has been helping applicants get into medical schools like Harvard for more than ten years. Structured like an academic medical department, MedEdits has experts in admissions, writing, editing, medicine, and interview prep working with you collaboratively so you can earn the best admissions results possible.

“Is this the movie you were talking about Alice?” I said as I showed her the movie poster on my iPhone. “Oh my God, I haven’t seen that poster in over 70 years,” she said with her arms trembling in front of her. Immediately, I sat up straight and started to question further. We were talking for about 40 minutes, and the most exciting thing she brought up in that time was the new flavor of pudding she had for lunch. All of sudden, she’s back in 1940 talking about what it was like to see this movie after school for only 5¢ a ticket! After an engaging discussion about life in the 40’s, I knew I had to indulge her. Armed with a plethora of movie streaming sights, I went to work scouring the web. No luck. The movie, “My Son My Son,” was apparently not in high demand amongst torrenting teens. I had to entreat my older brother for his Amazon Prime account to get a working stream. However, breaking up the monotony and isolation felt at the nursing home with a simple movie was worth the pandering.

While I was glad to help a resident have some fun, I was partly motivated by how much Alice reminded me of my own grandfather. In accordance with custom, my grandfather was to stay in our house once my grandmother passed away. More specifically, he stayed in my room and my bed. Just like grandma’s passing, my sudden roommate was a rough transition. In 8th grade at the time, I considered myself to be a generally good guy. Maybe even good enough to be a doctor one day. I volunteered at the hospital, shadowed regularly, and had a genuine interest for science. However, my interest in medicine was mostly restricted to academia. To be honest, I never had a sustained exposure to the palliative side of medicine until the arrival of my new roommate.

The two years I slept on that creaky wooden bed with him was the first time my metal was tested. Sharing that room, I was the one to take care of him. I was the one to rub ointment on his back, to feed him when I came back from school, and to empty out his spittoon when it got full. It was far from glamorous, and frustrating most of the time. With 75 years separating us, and senile dementia setting in, he would often forget who I was or where he was. Having to remind him that I was his grandson threatened to erode at my resolve. Assured by my Syrian Orthodox faith, I even prayed about it; asking God for comfort and firmness on my end. Over time, I grew slow to speak and eager to listen as he started to ramble more and more about bits and pieces of the past. If I was lucky, I would be able to stich together a narrative that may or may have not been true. In any case, my patience started to bud beyond my age group.

Having to remind him that I was his grandson threatened to erode at my resolve.

Although I grew more patient with his disease, my curiosity never really quelled. Conversely, it developed further alongside my rapidly growing interest in the clinical side of medicine. Naturally, I became drawn to a neurology lab in college where I got to study pathologies ranging from atrophy associated with schizophrenia, and necrotic lesions post stroke. However, unlike my intro biology courses, my work at the neurology lab was rooted beyond the academics. Instead, I found myself driven by real people who could potentially benefit from our research. In particular, my shadowing experience with Dr. Dominger in the Veteran’s home made the patient more relevant in our research as I got to encounter geriatric patients with age related diseases, such as Alzhimer’s and Parkinson’s. Furthermore, I had the privilege of of talking to the families of a few of these patients to get an idea of the impact that these diseases had on the family structure. For me, the scut work in the lab meant a lot more with these families in mind than the tritium tracer we were using in the lab.

Despite my achievements in the lab and the classroom, my time with my grandfather still holds a special place in my life story. The more I think about him, the more confident I am in my decision to pursue a career where caring for people is just as important, if not more important, than excelling at academics. Although it was a lot of work, the years spent with him was critical in expanding my horizons both in my personal life and in the context of medicine. While I grew to be more patient around others, I also grew to appreciate medicine beyond the science. This more holistic understanding of medicine had a synergistic effect in my work as I gained a purpose behind the extra hours in the lab, sleepless nights in the library, and longer hours volunteering. I had a reason for what I was doing that may one day help me have long conversations with my own grandchildren about the price of popcorn in the 2000’s.

The most important thing to highlight in Avery’s essay is how he is able to create a duality between his interest in not only the clinical, more academic-based side of medicine, but also the field’s personal side.

He draws personal connections between working with Alice — a patient in a hospital or nursing home — and caring intensely for his grandfather. These two experiences build up the “synergistic” relationship between caring for people and studying the science behind medicine. In this way, he is able to clearly state his passions for medicine and explain his exact motives for entering the field. Furthermore, in his discussion of her grandfather, he effectively employs imagery (“rub ointment on his back,” “feed him when I came back from school,” etc.) to describe the actual work that he does, calling it initially as “far from glamorous, and frustrating most of the time.” By first mentioning his initial impression, then transitioning into how he grew to appreciate the experience, Avery is able to demonstrate a strength of character, sense of enormous responsibility and capability, and open-minded attitude.

He draws personal connections between working with Alice — a patient in a hospital or nursing home — and caring intensely for his grandfather.

Later in the essay, Avery is also able to relate his time caring for his grandfather to his work with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients, showcasing the social impact of his work, as the reader is likely already familiar with the biological impact of the work. This takes Avery’s essay full circle, bringing it back to how a discussion with an elderly patient about the movies reminds him of why he chose to pursue medicine.

That said, the essay does feel rushed near the end, as the writer was likely trying to remain within the word count. There could be a more developed transition before Avery introduces the last sentence about “conversations with my own grandchildren,” especially as a strong essay ending is always recommended.

-- Accepted To: Saint Louis University Medical School Direct Admission Medical Program

Sponsored by Atlas Admissions : Atlas Admissions provides expert medical school admissions consulting and test preparation services. Their experienced, physician-driven team consistently delivers top results by designing comprehensive, personalized strategies to optimize applications. Atlas Admissions is based in Boston, MA and is trusted by clients worldwide.

The tension in the office was tangible. The entire team sat silently sifting through papers as Dr. L introduced Adam, a 60-year-old morbidly obese man recently admitted for a large open wound along his chest. As Dr. L reviewed the details of the case, his prognosis became even bleaker: hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cardiomyopathy, hyperlipidemia; the list went on and on. As the humdrum of the side-conversations came to a halt, and the shuffle of papers softened, the reality of Adam’s situation became apparent. Adam had a few months to live at best, a few days at worst. To make matters worse, Adam’s insurance would not cover his treatment costs. With no job, family, or friends, he was dying poor and alone.

I followed Dr. L out of the conference room, unsure what would happen next. “Well,” she muttered hesitantly, “We need to make sure that Adam is on the same page as us.” It’s one thing to hear bad news, and another to hear it utterly alone. Dr. L frantically reviewed all of Adam’s paperwork desperately looking for someone to console him, someone to be at his side. As she began to make calls, I saw that being a physician calls for more than good grades and an aptitude for science: it requires maturity, sacrifice, and most of all, empathy. That empathy is exactly what I saw in Dr. L as she went out of her way to comfort a patient she met hardly 20 minutes prior.

Since high school, I’ve been fascinated by technology’s potential to improve healthcare. As a volunteer in [the] Student Ambassador program, I was fortunate enough to watch an open-heart surgery. Intrigued by the confluence of technology and medicine, I chose to study biomedical engineering. At [school], I wanted to help expand this interface, so I became involved with research through Dr. P’s lab by studying the applications of electrospun scaffolds for dermal wound healing. While still in the preliminary stages of research, I learned about the Disability Service Club (DSC) and decided to try something new by volunteering at a bowling outing.

As she began to make calls, I saw that being a physician calls for more than good grades and an aptitude for science: it requires maturity, sacrifice, and most of all, empathy.

The DSC promotes awareness of cognitive disabilities in the community and seeks to alleviate difficulties for the disabled. During one outing, I collaborated with Arc, a local organization with a similar mission. Walking in, I was told that my role was to support the participants by providing encouragement. I decided to help a relatively quiet group of individuals assisted by only one volunteer, Mary. Mary informed me that many individuals with whom I was working were diagnosed with ASD. Suddenly, she started cheering, as one of the members of the group bowled a strike. The group went wild. Everyone was dancing, singing, and rejoicing. Then I noticed one gentleman sitting at our table, solemn-faced. I tried to start a conversation with him, but he remained unresponsive. I sat with him for the rest of the game, trying my hardest to think of questions that would elicit more than a monosyllabic response, but to no avail. As the game ended, I stood up to say bye when he mumbled, “Thanks for talking.” Then he quickly turned his head away. I walked away beaming. Although I was unable to draw out a smile or even sustain a conversation, at the end of the day, the fact that this gentleman appreciated my mere effort completely overshadowed the awkwardness of our time together. Later that day, I realized that as much as I enjoyed the thrill of research and its applications, helping other people was what I was most passionate about.

When it finally came time to tell Adam about his deteriorating condition, I was not sure how he would react. Dr. L gently greeted him and slowly let reality take its toll. He stoically turned towards Dr. L and groaned, “I don’t really care. Just leave me alone.” Dr. L gave him a concerned nod and gradually left the room. We walked to the next room where we met with a pastor from Adam’s church.

“Adam’s always been like that,” remarked the pastor, “he’s never been one to express emotion.” We sat with his pastor for over an hour discussing how we could console Adam. It turned out that Adam was part of a motorcycle club, but recently quit because of his health. So, Dr. L arranged for motorcycle pictures and other small bike trinkets to be brought to his room as a reminder of better times.

Dr. L’s simple gesture reminded me of why I want to pursue medicine. There is something sacred, empowering, about providing support when people need it the most; whether it be simple as starting a conversation, or providing support during the most trying of times. My time spent conducting research kindled my interest in the science of medicine, and my service as a volunteer allowed me to realize how much I valued human interaction. Science and technology form the foundation of medicine, but to me, empathy is the essence. It is my combined interest in science and service that inspires me to pursue medicine. It is that combined interest that makes me aspire to be a physician.

Parker’s essay focuses on one central narrative with a governing theme of compassionate and attentive care for patients, which is the key motivator for her application to medical school. Parker’s story focuses on her volunteer experience shadowing of Dr. L who went the extra mile for Adam, which sets Dr. L up as a role model for Parker as she enters the medical field. This effectively demonstrates to the reader what kind of doctor Parker wants to be in the future.

Parker’s narrative has a clear beginning, middle, and end, making it easy for the reader to follow. She intersperses the main narrative about Adam with experiences she has with other patients and reflects upon her values as she contemplates pursuing medicine as a career. Her anecdote about bowling with the patients diagnosed with ASD is another instance where she uses a story to tell the reader why she values helping people through medicine and attentive patient care, especially as she focuses on the impact her work made on one man at the event.

Parker's story focuses on her volunteer experience shadowing of Dr. L who went the extra mile for Adam, which sets Dr. L up as a role model for Parker as she enters the medical field.

All throughout the essay, the writing is engaging and Parker incorporates excellent imagery, which goes well with her varied sentence structure. The essay is also strong because it comes back full circle at its conclusion, tying the overall narrative back to the story of Dr. L and Adam, which speaks to Parker’s motives for going to medical school.

-- Accepted To: Emory School of Medicine

Growing up, I enjoyed visiting my grandparents. My grandfather was an established doctor, helping the sick and elderly in rural Taiwan until two weeks before he died at 91 years old. His clinic was located on the first floor of the residency with an exam room, treatment room, X-ray room, and small pharmacy. Curious about his work, I would follow him to see his patients. Grandpa often asked me if I want to be a doctor just like him. I always smiled, but was more interested in how to beat the latest Pokémon game. I was in 8th grade when my grandfather passed away. I flew back to Taiwan to attend his funeral. It was a gloomy day and the only street in the small village became a mourning place for the villagers. Flowers filled the streets and people came to pay their respects. An old man told me a story: 60 years ago, a village woman was in a difficult labor. My grandfather rushed into the house and delivered a baby boy. That boy was the old man and he was forever grateful. Stories of grandpa saving lives and bringing happiness to families were told during the ceremony. At that moment, I realized why my grandfather worked so tirelessly up until his death as a physician. He did it for the reward of knowing that he kept a family together and saved a life. The ability for a doctor to heal and bring happiness is the reason why I want to study medicine. Medical school is the first step on a lifelong journey of learning, but I feel that my journey leading up to now has taught me some things of what it means to be an effective physician.

With a newfound purpose, I began volunteering and shadowing at my local hospital. One situation stood out when I was a volunteer in the cardiac stress lab. As I attached EKG leads onto a patient, suddenly the patient collapsed and started gasping for air. His face turned pale, then slightly blue. The charge nurse triggered “Code Blue” and started CPR. A team of doctors and nurses came, rushing in with a defibrillator to treat and stabilize the patient. What I noticed was that medicine was not only about one individual acting as a superhero to save a life, but that it takes a team of individuals with an effective leader, working together to deliver the best care. I want to be a leader as well as part of a team that can make a difference in a person’s life. I have refined these lessons about teamwork and leadership to my activities. In high school I was an 8 time varsity letter winner for swimming and tennis and captain of both of those teams. In college I have participated in many activities, but notably serving as assistant principle cellist in my school symphony as well as being a co-founding member of a quartet. From both my athletic experiences and my music experiences I learned what it was like to not only assert my position as a leader and to effectively communicate my views, but equally as important I learned how to compromise and listen to the opinions of others. Many physicians that I have observed show a unique blend of confidence and humility.

What I noticed was that medicine was not only about one individual acting as a superhero to save a life, but that it takes a team of individuals with an effective leader, working together to deliver the best care.

College opened me up to new perspectives on what makes a complete physician. A concept that was preached in the Guaranteed Professional Program Admissions in Medicine (GPPA) was that medicine is both an art and a science. The art of medicine deals with a variety of aspects including patient relationships as well as ethics. Besides my strong affinity for the sciences and mathematics, I always have had interest in history. I took courses in both German literature and history, which influenced me to take a class focusing on Nazi neuroscientists. It was the ideology of seeing the disabled and different races as test subjects rather than people that led to devastating lapses in medical ethics. The most surprising fact for me was that doctors who were respected and leaders in their field disregarded the humanity of patient and rather focused on getting results from their research. Speaking with Dr. Zeidman, the professor for this course, influenced me to start my research which deals with the ethical qualms of using data derived from unethical Nazi experimentation such as the brains derived from the adult and child euthanasia programs. Today, science is so result driven, it is important to keep in mind the ethics behind research and clinical practice. Also the development of personalized genomic medicine brings into question about potential privacy violations and on the extreme end discrimination. The study of ethics no matter the time period is paramount in the medical field. The end goal should always be to put the patient first.

Teaching experiences in college inspired me to become a physician educator if I become a doctor. Post-MCAT, I was offered a job by Next Step Test Prep as a tutor to help students one on one for the MCAT. I had a student who stated he was doing well during practice, but couldn’t get the correct answer during practice tests. Working with the student, I pointed out his lack of understanding concepts and this realization helped him and improves his MCAT score. Having the ability to educate the next generation of doctors is not only necessary, but also a rewarding experience.

My experiences volunteering and shadowing doctors in the hospital as well as my understanding of what it means to be a complete physician will make me a good candidate as a medical school student. It is my goal to provide the best care to patients and to put a smile on a family’s face just as my grandfather once had. Achieving this goal does not take a special miracle, but rather hard work, dedication, and an understanding of what it means to be an effective physician.

Through reflecting on various stages of life, Quinn expresses how they found purpose in pursuing medicine. Starting as a child more interested in Pokemon than their grandfather’s patients, Quinn exhibits personal growth through recognizing the importance of their grandfather’s work saving lives and eventually gaining the maturity to work towards this goal as part of a team.

This essay opens with abundant imagery — of the grandfather’s clinic, flowers filling the streets, and the village woman’s difficult labor — which grounds Quinn’s story in their family roots. Yet, the transition from shadowing in hospitals to pursuing leadership positions in high schools is jarring, and the list of athletic and musical accomplishments reads like a laundry list of accomplishments until Quinn neatly wraps them up as evidence of leadership and teamwork skills. Similarly, the section about tutoring, while intended to demonstrate Quinn’s desire to educate future physicians, lacks the emotional resonance necessary to elevate it from another line lifted from their resume.

This essay opens with abundant imagery — of the grandfather's clinic, flowers filling the streets, and the village woman's difficult labor — which grounds Quinn's story in their family roots.

The strongest point of Quinn’s essay is the focus on their unique arts and humanities background. This equips them with a unique perspective necessary to consider issues in medicine in a new light. Through detailing how history and literature coursework informed their unique research, Quinn sets their application apart from the multitude of STEM-focused narratives. Closing the essay with the desire to help others just as their grandfather had, Quinn ties the narrative back to their personal roots.

-- Accepted To: Edinburgh University UCAT Score: 2810 BMAT Score: 4.6, 4.2, 3.5A

Exposure to the medical career from an early age by my father, who would explain diseases of the human body, sparked my interest for Medicine and drove me to seek out work experience. I witnessed the contrast between use of bone saws and drills to gain access to the brain, with subsequent use of delicate instruments and microscopes in neurosurgery. The surgeon's care to remove the tumour, ensuring minimal damage to surrounding healthy brain and his commitment to achieve the best outcome for the patient was inspiring. The chance to have such a positive impact on a patient has motivated me to seek out a career in Medicine.

Whilst shadowing a surgical team in Texas, carrying out laparoscopic bariatric procedures, I appreciated the surgeon's dedication to continual professional development and research. I was inspired to carry out an Extended Project Qualification on whether bariatric surgery should be funded by the NHS. By researching current literature beyond my school curriculum, I learnt to assess papers for bias and use reliable sources to make a conclusion on a difficult ethical situation. I know that doctors are required to carry out research and make ethical decisions and so, I want to continue developing these skills during my time at medical school.

The chance to have such a positive impact on a patient has motivated me to seek out a career in Medicine.

Attending an Oncology multi-disciplinary team meeting showed me the importance of teamwork in medicine. I saw each team member, with specific areas of expertise, contributing to the discussion and actively listening, and together they formed a holistic plan of action for patients. During my Young Enterprise Award, I facilitated a brainstorm where everyone pitched a product idea. Each member offered a different perspective on the idea and then voted on a product to carry forward in the competition. As a result, we came runners up in the Regional Finals. Furthermore, I started developing my leadership skills, which I improved by doing Duke of Edinburgh Silver and attending a St. John Ambulance Leadership course. In one workshop, similar to the bariatric surgeon I shadowed, I communicated instructions and delegated roles to my team to successfully solve a puzzle. These experiences highlighted the crucial need for teamwork and leadership as a doctor.

Observing a GP, I identified the importance of compassion and empathy. During a consultation with a severely depressed patient, the GP came to the patient's eye level and used a calm, non-judgmental tone of voice, easing her anxieties and allowing her to disclose more information. While volunteering at a care home weekly for two years, I adapted my communication for a resident suffering with dementia who was disconnected from others. I would take her to a quiet environment, speak slowly and in a non-threatening manner, as such, she became talkative, engaged and happier. I recognised that communication and compassion allows doctors to build rapport, gain patients' trust and improve compliance. For two weeks, I shadowed a surgeon performing multiple craniotomies a day. I appreciated the challenges facing doctors including time and stress management needed to deliver high quality care. Organisation, by prioritising patients based on urgency and creating a timetable on the ward round, was key to running the theatre effectively. Similarly, I create to-do-lists and prioritise my academics and extra-curricular activities to maintain a good work-life balance: I am currently preparing for my Grade 8 in Singing, alongside my A-level exams. I also play tennis for the 1st team to relax and enable me to refocus. I wish to continue my hobbies at university, as ways to manage stress.

Through my work experiences and voluntary work, I have gained a realistic understanding of Medicine and its challenges. I have begun to display the necessary skills that I witnessed, such as empathy, leadership and teamwork. The combination of these skills with my fascination for the human body drives me to pursue a place at medical school and a career as a doctor.

This essay traces Alex's personal exploration of medicine through different stages of life, taking a fairly traditional path to the medical school application essay. From witnessing medical procedures to eventually pursuing leadership positions, this tale of personal progress argues that Alex's life has prepared him to become a doctor.

Alex details how experiences conducting research and working with medical teams have confirmed his interest in medicine. Although the breadth of experiences speaks to the applicant’s interest in medicine, the essay verges on being a regurgitation of the Alex's resume, which does not provide the admissions officer with any new insights or information and ultimately takes away from the essay as a whole. As such, the writing’s lack of voice or unique perspective puts the applicant at risk of sounding middle-of-the-road.

From witnessing medical procedures to eventually pursuing leadership positions, this tale of personal progress argues that Alex's life has prepared him to become a doctor.

The essay’s organization, however, is one of its strengths — each paragraph provides an example of personal growth through a new experience in medicine. Further, Alex demonstrates his compassion and diligence through detailed stories, which give a reader a glimpse into his values. Through recognizing important skills necessary to be a doctor, Alex demonstrates that he has the mature perspective necessary to embark upon this journey.

What this essay lacks in a unique voice, it makes up for in professionalism and organization. Alex's earnest desire to attend medical school is what makes this essay shine.

-- Accepted To: University of Toronto MCAT Scores: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems - 128, Critical Analysis and Reading Skills - 127, Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems - 127, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior - 130, Total - 512

Moment of brilliance.


These are all words one would use to describe their motivation by a higher calling to achieve something great. Such an experience is often cited as the reason for students to become physicians; I was not one of these students. Instead of waiting for an event like this, I chose to get involved in the activities that I found most invigorating. Slowly but surely, my interests, hobbies, and experiences inspired me to pursue medicine.

As a medical student, one must possess a solid academic foundation to facilitate an understanding of physical health and illness. Since high school, I found science courses the most appealing and tended to devote most of my time to their exploration. I also enjoyed learning about the music, food, literature, and language of other cultures through Latin and French class. I chose the Medical Sciences program because it allowed for flexibility in course selection. I have studied several scientific disciplines in depth like physiology and pathology while taking classes in sociology, psychology, and classical studies. Such a diverse academic portfolio has strengthened my ability to consider multiple viewpoints and attack problems from several angles. I hope to relate to patients from all walks of life as a physician and offer them personalized treatment.

I was motivated to travel as much as possible by learning about other cultures in school. Exposing myself to different environments offered me perspective on universal traits that render us human. I want to pursue medicine because I believe that this principle of commonality relates to medical practice in providing objective and compassionate care for all. Combined with my love for travel, this realization took me to Nepal with Volunteer Abroad (VA) to build a school for a local orphanage (4). The project’s demands required a group of us to work closely as a team to accomplish the task. Rooted in different backgrounds, we often had conflicting perspectives; even a simple task such as bricklaying could stir up an argument because each person had their own approach. However, we discussed why we came to Nepal and reached the conclusion that all we wanted was to build a place of education for the children. Our unifying goal allowed us to reach compromises and truly appreciate the value of teamwork. These skills are vital in a clinical setting, where physicians and other health care professionals need to collaborate as a multidisciplinary team to tackle patients’ physical, emotional, social, and psychological problems.

I hope to relate to patients from all walks of life as a physician and offer them personalized treatment.

The insight I gained from my Nepal excursion encouraged me to undertake and develop the role of VA campus representative (4). Unfortunately, many students are not equipped with the resources to volunteer abroad; I raised awareness about local initiatives so everyone had a chance to do their part. I tried to avoid pushing solely for international volunteerism for this reason and also because it can undermine the work of local skilled workers and foster dependency. Nevertheless, I took on this position with VA because I felt that the potential benefits were more significant than the disadvantages. Likewise, doctors must constantly weigh out the pros and cons of a situation to help a patient make the best choice. I tried to dispel fears of traveling abroad by sharing first-hand experiences so that students could make an informed decision. When people approached me regarding unfamiliar placements, I researched their questions and provided them with both answers and a sense of security. I found great fulfillment in addressing the concerns of individuals, and I believe that similar processes could prove invaluable in the practice of medicine.

As part of the Sickkids Summer Research Program, I began to appreciate the value of experimental investigation and evidence-based medicine (23). Responsible for initiating an infant nutrition study at a downtown clinic, I was required to explain the project’s implications and daily protocol to physicians, nurses and phlebotomists. I took anthropometric measurements and blood pressure of children aged 1-10 and asked parents about their and their child’s diet, television habits, physical exercise regimen, and sunlight exposure. On a few occasions, I analyzed and presented a small set of data to my superiors through oral presentations and written documents.

With continuous medical developments, physicians must participate in lifelong learning. More importantly, they can engage in research to further improve the lives of their patients. I encountered a young mother one day at the clinic struggling to complete the study’s questionnaires. After I asked her some questions, she began to open up to me as her anxiety subsided; she then told me that her child suffered from low iron. By talking with the physician and reading a few articles, I recommended a few supplements and iron-rich foods to help her child. This experience in particular helped me realize that I enjoy clinical research and strive to address the concerns of people with whom I interact.

Research is often impeded by a lack of government and private funding. My clinical placement motivated me to become more adept in budgeting, culminating in my role as founding Co-President of the UWO Commerce Club (ICCC) (9). Together, fellow club executives and I worked diligently to get the club ratified, a process that made me aware of the bureaucratic challenges facing new organizations. Although we had a small budget, we found ways of minimizing expenditure on advertising so that we were able to host more speakers who lectured about entrepreneurship and overcoming challenges. Considering the limited space available in hospitals and the rising cost of health care, physicians, too, are often forced to prioritize and manage the needs of their patients.

No one needs a grand revelation to pursue medicine. Although passion is vital, it is irrelevant whether this comes suddenly from a life-altering event or builds up progressively through experience. I enjoyed working in Nepal, managing resources, and being a part of clinical and research teams; medicine will allow me to combine all of these aspects into one wholesome career.

I know with certainty that this is the profession for me.

Jimmy opens this essay hinting that his essay will follow a well-worn path, describing the “big moment” that made him realize why he needed to become a physician. But Jimmy quickly turns the reader’s expectation on its head by stating that he did not have one of those moments. By doing this, Jimmy commands attention and has the reader waiting for an explanation. He soon provides the explanation that doubles as the “thesis” of his essay: Jimmy thinks passion can be built progressively, and Jimmy’s life progression has led him to the medical field.

Jimmy did not make the decision to pursue a career in medicine lightly. Instead he displays through anecdotes that his separate passions — helping others, exploring different walks of life, personal responsibility, and learning constantly, among others — helped Jimmy realize that being a physician was the career for him. By talking readers through his thought process, it is made clear that Jimmy is a critical thinker who can balance multiple different perspectives simultaneously. The ability to evaluate multiple options and make an informed, well-reasoned decision is one that bodes well for Jimmy’s medical career.

While in some cases this essay does a lot of “telling,” the comprehensive and decisive walkthrough indicates what Jimmy’s idea of a doctor is. To him, a doctor is someone who is genuinely interested in his work, someone who can empathize and related to his patients, someone who can make important decisions with a clear head, and someone who is always trying to learn more. Just like his decision to work at the VA, Jimmy has broken down the “problem” (what his career should be) and reached a sound conclusion.

By talking readers through his thought process, it is made clear that Jimmy is a critical thinker who can balance multiple different perspectives simultaneously.

Additionally, this essay communicates Jimmy’s care for others. While it is not always advisable to list one’s volunteer efforts, each activity Jimmy lists has a direct application to his essay. Further, the sheer amount of philanthropic work that Jimmy does speaks for itself: Jimmy would not have worked at VA, spent a summer with Sickkids, or founded the UWO finance club if he were not passionate about helping others through medicine. Like the VA story, the details of Jimmy’s participation in Sickkids and the UWO continue to show how he has thought about and embodied the principles that a physician needs to be successful.

Jimmy’s essay both breaks common tropes and lives up to them. By framing his “list” of activities with his passion-happens-slowly mindset, Jimmy injects purpose and interest into what could have been a boring and braggadocious essay if it were written differently. Overall, this essay lets the reader know that Jimmy is seriously dedicated to becoming a physician, and both his thoughts and his actions inspire confidence that he will give medical school his all.

The Crimson's news and opinion teams—including writers, editors, photographers, and designers—were not involved in the production of this content.

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  • v.325(7366); 2002 Sep 28

What's a good doctor and how do you make one?

Editor —Imagine waking tomorrow to find a magic lamp by your bed, and the genie tells you that there is only one wish left. You decide to devote it to making good doctors. What kind of people would these good doctors be?

We ask this question often among ourselves—a doctor embarking on his career, an active researcher approaching his peak, and a retired clinician needing geriatric care. We sometimes ask other people too. Despite the disparate vantage points, the wish lists are amazingly similar. We all want doctors who will:

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  • Respect people, healthy or ill, regardless of who they are
  • Support patients and their loved ones when and where they are needed
  • Promote health as well as treat disease
  • Embrace the power of information and communication technologies to support people with the best available information, while respecting their individual values and preferences
  • Always ask courteous questions, let people talk, and listen to them carefully
  • Give unbiased advice, let people participate actively in all decisions related to their health and health care, assess each situation carefully, and help whatever the situation
  • Use evidence as a tool, not as a determinant of practice; humbly accept death as an important part of life; and help people make the best possible arrangements when death is close
  • Work cooperatively with other members of the healthcare team
  • Be proactive advocates for their patients, mentors for other health professionals, and ready to learn from others, regardless of their age, role, or status

Finally, we want doctors to have a balanced life and to care for themselves and their families as well as for others. In sum, we want doctors to be happy and healthy, caring and competent, and good travel companions for people through the journey we call life.

Unfortunately, we do not have a magic lamp, and there is no genie. We must use our own skills and endeavours to make the good doctors we want and need. It is an awesome responsibility.

  • BMJ. 2002 Sep 28; 325(7366): 711.

ABC of being a good doctor

Editor —I offer some quotations on being a good doctor.

“To be a doctor, then, means much more than to dispense pills or to patch up or repair torn flesh and shattered minds. To be a doctor is to be an intermediary between man and GOD” (Felix Marti-Ibanez in To Be a Doctor ).

“One of the essential qualities of the clinician is interest in humanity, for the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient” (Frances W Peabody in The Care of the Patient ).

“Being a good doctor means being incredibly compulsive. It has nothing to do with flights of intuition or brilliant diagnoses or even saving lives. It's dealing with a lot of people with chronic diseases that you really can't change or improve. You can help patients. You can make a difference in their lives, but you do that mostly by drudgery—day after day, paying attention to details, seeing patient after patient and complaint after complaint, and being responsive on the phone when you don't feel like being responsive” (John Pekkanen in MD—Doctors Talk About Themselves ).

“You can't know it all. And even if you knew everything that anyone else knows (which you can't, so stop worrying about it), you still wouldn't know what you need to know to help many patients” (Perri Klass in A Not Entirely Benign Procedure ).

Some of the qualities that a good doctor should possess are measurable, others are not. A good doctor should be:

A: attentive (to patient's needs), analytical (of self), authoritative, accommodating, adviser, approachable, assuring

B: balanced, believer, bold (yet soft), brave

C: caring, concerned, competent, compassionate, confident, creative, communicative, calm, comforter, conscientious, compliant, cooperative, cultivated

D: detective (a good doctor is like a good detective), a good discussion partner, decisive, delicate (don't play “God”)

E: ethical, empathy, effective, efficient, enduring, energetic, enthusiastic

F: friendly, faithful to his or her patients, flexible

G: a “good person,” gracious

H: a “human being,” honest, humorous, humanistic, humble, hopeful

I: intellectual, investigative, impartial, informative

J: wise in judgment, jovial, just

K: knowledgeable, kind

L: learner, good listener, loyal

M: mature, modest

N: noble, nurturing

O: open minded, open hearted, optimistic, objective, observant

P: professional, passionate, patient, positive, persuasive, philosopher

Q: qualified, questions self (thoughts, beliefs, decisions, and actions)

R: realistic, respectful (of autonomy), responsible, reliever (of pain and anxiety), reassuring

S: sensitive, selfless, scholarly, skilful, speaker, sympathetic

T: trustworthy, a great thinker (especially lateral thinking), teacher, thorough, thoughtful

U: understanding, unequivocal, up to date (with literature)

V: vigilant, veracious

W: warm, wise, watchful, willingness to listen, learn, and experiment

Y: yearning, yielding

Z: zestful.

Good doctors abound

Editor —It is fairly easy to define in a few words what makes a good lawyer, a good architect, or a good writer, by saying that it is one who wins difficult trials, who builds the best constructions, or who writes moving novels—no more qualities would be absolutely necessary. In contrast, to define what makes a good doctor is a rather difficult task.

A good doctor is not one who cures the most because in many specialties recovery is not a frequent outcome. It is not one who makes the best diagnosis because in many cases of self limited or incurable disorders the precise and timely diagnosis does not make a great difference for the patient. It is not one who knows more scientific facts because in medical science ignorance is still rampant in several diseases. It is not one who is gentle, compassionate, and honest with the patient because these qualities are often insufficient for an effective medical course of action. It is not one who discovers a new fact or treatment because nowadays new information is only a small fraction of knowledge to be inserted in the enormous puzzle of biomedical research.

Other professionals can be judged by their end results, but a doctor can be defined as good only when he or she has as many as possible of the above attributes. A good doctor is simultaneously learned, honest, kind, humble, enthusiastic, optimistic, and efficient. He or she inspires total confidence in patients and daily renews the magical relationship that by itself constitutes good treatment for any kind of ailment and the best starting point for confronting all causes of pain and suffering. Although so many virtues are difficult to find in a single human being, the medical profession is fertile ground for finding such combinations. Fortunately, in our profession good doctors abound.

Some magic is required

Editor —As I think about the past when doctors were soothsayers, astrologers, historians, philosophers, artists, and so on, my feeling is that to be a doctor requires a lot of science but also a little bit of “magic.”

Where does this magic come from? Well, it is a result of being a complete, integrated person trying to help other people by being understanding and caring but also knowledgeable, prepared, and ready to give your best—not to save lives but to make them as good as possible.

But why do I consider it a gift, or compare it with magic? There is not a single piece of evidence or the means to measure whether a doctor is good or bad. Patients need knowledge, but that is not all. They need someone who cares about people, not about illnesses.

As a recently qualified doctor, I consider myself ignorant in many ways, but I know my limitations, and I hope to become better for the good of my future patients. A good doctor should always admit that he or she is human and has limits, but these boundaries must not stunt us. Secure in the knowledge that our boundaries make us strong, we may excel, trying always to be better as human beings and doctors.

We are trying to make doctors too good

Editor —We are trying to make doctors too good today, and that is the problem. Medical training demands that doctors master at least the basics of a host of scientific disciplines—anatomy, pharmacology, molecular biology, computer science, epidemiology, nutrition and diet, psychology, and so on. At the same time, they are asked to be insurance specialists, anthropologists, ethicists, marriage counsellors, small business owners, social workers, economists—the range of disciplines we ask our medical students to consider is staggering.

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The guilt is poured on as articles appear almost every day in the literature, lamenting how little doctors know about some important issue or another—doctors miss depression, don't ask about sexual behaviours, misunderstand familial abuse, don't know enough about subcultural beliefs, haven't been brought up to date on the functioning of the (fill in the blank) system, have not read up on drug interactions, ignore patients' spiritual needs, and on and on. Doctors reel under the breadth of expertise they are supposed to master.

As society becomes increasingly medicalised, and more and more social problems that used to be the jurisdiction of law or religion (such as drinking too much alcohol or coping with stress, street violence, or general world weariness) fall under the rubric of medical care, doctors are expected to understand more and more as they heal our social and our physical failings. Doctors simply cannot assimilate so much information, or at least they cannot assimilate it well. The truly good doctor must, of course, be technically proficient and know the craft of medicine. In addition, however, the good doctor must be able to understand patients in enough breadth to call on a community of skilled healers—nurses, social workers, insurance specialists, yoga teachers, psychotherapists, technicians, chaplains, whatever is necessary—to help restore the person to health (or perhaps, to support the person in their journey towards death).

To do that, the doctor must be able to be touched by the patient's life as well as his or her illness. The doctor need not be an anthropologist but must know how to ask about a person's culture; he or she need not be a marriage counsellor but must be able to spot the signs of spousal abuse or the depression that may be the result of a failing union. Good doctors are humble doctors, willing to listen to their patients and gather together the full array of resources—medical, human, social, and spiritual—that will contribute to their patients' healing.

Tools of the trade must be put to good use

Editor —Good doctors must be able to put their tools to good use. With their ears, they must hear all that the patient tells. With their eyes, they must see all that the patient shows. With their hands, they must feel all that is hidden from their eyes. With their mind, they must detect all that is unspoken. When all this information has been assimilated, they must use their mouths to tell patients their thoughts and their body language to reassure. All the time, remembering their duty to the patients.

It must be remembered that as a profession, we have the highest ideals and standards to uphold. We can do this only when we ourselves are well trained, have the appropriate time with the patient, and have patients who remember their duty to us too.

Medical profession needs input from belief in humanity and ethics

Editor —In the developing world with its deficient facilities and patients who need to eat before they need medical care, the medical profession needs input from a belief in humanity and the ethics of the job more than scientific professionalism.

A good doctor needs to develop an abundance of patience; to explain and educate before prescribing drugs; and to think about the proper decision—this does not always have to be what is written in the textbooks. Costly investigations that confirm only what history and examination have discovered have no place, and neither have investigations that would not alter management.

The choice of treatment of a patient who cannot pay immense costs also needs special consideration, as does that of a patient who has to travel long distances to reach appropriate care. Taking time to explain and understand, choosing the language to fit each and every patient, is not taught in medical school. Deciding to wait rather than to interfere, when interfering in a deficient and too short lived manner would only prolong suffering, sharing the sufferings from disease not only in a biological but in a social sense these are skills that a good doctor definitely needs but is not always successful in developing.

Recognising your limits and acting only within them and giving yourself the chance to gain relief and regain energy are sometimes more important than just hanging around helplessly in a busy ward. Honesty and humility—the slogan of my medical school in Khartoum—are easy to write and say but very difficult to practise in an overpressed emergency department where tiredness and nervousness gain the upper hand.

Being a patient helps

Editor —Aside from the obvious benefits of a fine medical school, great teachers, and lots of hands on clinical experience, I think the very best way to produce a good (sympathetic and humane) doctor is to force student doctors or residents to become patients.

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I believe every doctor in pupa should have many tubes of blood drawn over a few days by poor phlebotomists, have a nasogastric tube inserted once or twice, undergo a thorough sigmoidoscopy, barium enema, and bowel preparation, and perhaps even be made to spend a night or two confined to a hospital bed, plugged into an intravenous drip, and then be subjected to harried and uncaring staff doctors and nurses while bedridden.

I'll bet a case of wine that this trenchant exercise will produce far more empathetic, sympathetic, and good doctors then multiple lectures on sensitivity and humanism by some medical academic, ethics professor, or member of the cloth. I daresay that I truly believe that my experiences of being a patient as a student sure as hell helped mould me into the caring and sensitive practitioner I am today!

A nurse speaks

Editor —From a nurse's point of view, being a good doctor is not that hard. Good doctors have graduated from medical school so should have a reasonable depth of knowledge to inform their decisions.

The key to becoming a good doctor is to gain the confidence not to need support when capable of carrying out a task or making a decision and to ask for help and support when not capable. Remember, the clinical picture is more important in most circumstances than the laboratory results. Look at the patient, not the numbers.

A good doctor also needs to be a team player. Nurses and those in professions allied to medicine can make your life easier or harder. Most house officers and senior house officers have limited practical knowledge of the specialties, whereas nurses often have many years of experience—use this to your advantage. You will not lose your authority by asking for their help but will gain nurses' respect for realising your limits. Nurses often know consultants quite well and can tell you what information they like available on their ward rounds and when they would favour being asked for help and advice.

Remember, most nurses don't envy your responsibilities but do wish to have their concerns heard and answered. We don't mind our advice being overturned. We just want to know you have registered our concerns, have thought about them, and weighed the pros and cons of action or inaction.

Finally, and often hardest to achieve, is good communication with patients. Listen to them, and try to be empathetic. The ultimate responsibility for health decisions is theirs. Remember this. Policies and procedures can be bent to suit the patient, just remember to document that it was the patient's request.

It looks so simple written down like this, but most doctors still find these attributes difficult to acquire.

A patient speaks

Editor —For several years I was registered with a wonderful general practitioner in my home town. I never appreciated him until I moved away to study at university.

I went from being an empowered individual to a patient number. There was no recognition that I had existed before I joined my new practice—the staff never referred to any of my previous doctor's notes. It was upsetting to sit across the desk from the general practitioner, give an account of what had happened, and then find out that the salient points had not been recorded in my notes. My suggestions for what might be happening were treated with, I felt, derision. After all, what would I know—I'm a mere patient.

It got to the point where I would see my general practitioner only if I had a fair idea of what was going on. If I were concerned or worried I'd return home and see my “real” general practitioner as a temporary resident. So why was one general practitioner wonderful and the other not?

My real general practitioner became my expert best friend. He took an interest in me as a person and not as a set of symptoms. He knew when to speak and, more importantly, when to shut up. My history was my history, not his questions with his answers. I felt empowered and never bullied into taking a course of action that I didn't want to follow. He seemed to realise that I might be better placed to make suggestions about what was going on. My experiences lead me to make the following as a summary of a good consultation.

The doctor asks questions; patients give answers. The doctor uses his or her knowledge and skills to help patients make sense of their answers; patients ultimately decide what they want to do with their doctor's support. My unhappiness arose when the doctor filled in her own answers.

Eulogy for a good doctor

Editor —In June this year I went to the memorial service for an exceptionally good doctor, Phyllis Mortimer. I had been both a colleague and a patient of hers some years ago. An inimitable woman (one of three women in her year of 150 medical students), she had graduated despite having polio as an undergraduate and myriad health problems that continued all her life.

Perhaps this explained something of the compassion she had for her patients and her sheer humanity. Jungians speak of the concept of the wounded healer: that clinicians must be aware of their own woundedness so patients can find the health in themselves. The relationship between the two of them becomes in itself a creative medium unique to that encounter. The protocol is a necessary, but enormously limited, tool, which provides only the beginnings of good care. Real evidence based practice is fluid, ever changing and continually revisable specific knowledge. Some of the necessary knowledge is that which is created in the consulting room itself.

My husband and I had treatment for subfertility for about five years with several clinicians. Phyllis cared for me through many months of it. With her, unlike others, the unpleasant procedure was no more invasive than if she were looking in my ear. This was due to her gentle physical handling of me (despite her own handicap with hand and arm) but especially because of her interpersonal skills, which were nothing short of extraordinary. She was also the only clinician we encountered who was able to work (and work well) with the continual disappointment of treatment failure. As her colleague (at the time I was the regional lead for quality improvement), I knew of Phyllis's reputation for searching to extend the technical quality of care and also of her gifts as writer, dramatist, and director. Phyllis also had her flaws. But it was her capacity for equality and sensitivity of relationship—and at the same time holding her professional boundaries and standards—that made her such an exceptionally good doctor.

She relished the chance to find creative ways of communicating just as well with the patient from a severely deprived background as with the educated patient. Phyllis's consultations were of a dramatically higher standard than most I have witnessed over the years and uniquely tailored to the patient in front of her.

There is no such thing as the perfect doctor. The good doctor is not one type or one thing. He or she is “good enough” in the Winnicottian sense—someone who is truly mindful of her or his own limitations and the profession's limitations. The good doctor has a high tolerance for “not knowing”—an ability to suspend judgment and work with situations of high intractability. He or she is always searching for, moving towards, and finding creative solutions in the moment at hand, able to hold both hope and failure simultaneously, being different things to different patients and thereby meeting myriad needs.

Can you imagine a world where more clinicians, like Phyllis, were able to transform their inherent handicaps into increased effectiveness? That would mean powerful medicine indeed.

Now I am retired . . .

Editor —What is a good doctor? How do we make one? Now I am retired I know how to be a good doctor. I know how to listen to a patient. I know how to put myself at the patient's disposal. Put down your pen. Turn away from your desk. Face the patient. Sit back. Give him or her your full attention. Only thus will you fully understand the problem.

Before I took up medicine I knew what made a good doctor. I was a mature student. Furthermore, I had had extensive experience of being a patient. I had often had blood taken through an old fashioned, reusable needle, had had barium meals, sigmoidoscopies, nasogastric feeding, intravenous drips, and more than one operation under general anaesthesia. I knew what a good doctor and a good nurse were like.

Once I was qualified things were rather different. Although I was still full of youthful idealism, I became less inclined to sit and listen. I seldom had the chance to sit at all. Still, I loved the work, and, on the whole, I loved the patients. I still felt compassion and fellow feeling for them. But as time went by, things changed. For one thing I was perpetually aware of time's winged chariot hurrying near and most of the time it seemed to be accompanied by the hound of heaven.

Although I had studied art, literature, and philosophy, although I had the gift of tongues and of clear thinking, if not of clairvoyance, I found that the benison of charity, of the milk of human kindness, was leaking out of my soul, squeezed out by the pressures of work, of financial anxiety, of a wife and five children to care for and keep happy, of nights broken by the cries of my own children or the urgent clinical needs of others, of committee work and administrative responsibilities. I became less patient with my patients, less tolerant of the foibles of the human race, less willing to listen, less able to care.

Once I retired, however, things changed again. Suddenly my financial worries were over. I had savings instead of debts. Most of my children had left the nest. I had time once more. Doing locum consultant work here and there when I felt inclined had all the pleasures and little of the pain of full time consultant work. No committee meetings, virtually no administrative duties. Just ward rounds, outpatient clinics, teaching, and on-call duties every three or four nights. The outpatient clinics were generally less heavily booked than I had been used to. I could sit back and listen to patients and their parents, could put myself entirely at their disposal. It made a tremendous difference.

If I had my time again, would I do it any differently? I'm not sure. I hope I would worry less. I hope I would be more patient, with the patients and with myself. But nowadays it would be all different. Whereas in my first preregistration job I was on call for 108 hours a week, nowadays I might at worst be on for 80 hours. In all my 30 years from qualification to retirement, except when I was in the United States, I was always on a one in two rota. Nowadays as a consultant, I would be on a one in four rota at worst. Would that make it easier to love one's patients? I sincerely hope so.

Teach medical students reality to make good doctors

Editor —To make a good doctor we need medical schools to be honest with students and teach them about how things really are. We need to provide medical students with that most powerful and dangerous of life forces—reality.

Some patients can be difficult and dangerous. Most clinical decisions have no evidence base. Pursuing ethical aspects of each case is an activity that needs prohibitively intense resources. Uncertainty looms over all of medicine, and you must be able to cope with the pain and guilt that it brings.

We teach students about a cosy, idealised medical environment that really exists in the minds of the academics. When students experience the real world they do not see the majority of doctors spending a vast amount of time discussing ethics with patients. They find the evidence base to be sorely deficient. They soon realise that many serious illnesses can present with minimal signs and symptoms, and they must somehow devise a personal way of coping with the pain and guilt that this uncertainty produces.

I believe that we harm our medical students by not being honest about the real medical environment in which they will eventually practise. We need to give them the skills to help them make their patients healthy but we also need to give them the skills to help them remain healthy themselves. Placing students in a real medical environment with deficient skills simply confuses and alienates them and ends up damaging everyone. If we want to make good doctors then we must teach them in the real world.

How not to do it

Editor —First of all, take “raw” medical graduates and place them in a busy medical unit. Write a job description that details their rest periods but not their role, their tasks but not their contribution. Make them work with an ever changing variety of senior colleagues—not for them an old fashioned apprenticeship. Ensure that they never see the same patient twice because compliance with hours is more important than the insights they gain from providing continuity of care.

As they move into specialist training, require them to collect and collate precise details of everything except the quality of doctoring they are learning to provide. Teach them that they too can profit from the drug industry through its necessary supplementation of study leave budgets. Make sure that resources in your institution go where they are really needed—the only computer doctors need is between their ears.

When the time comes for research, use this opportunity to reinforce the importance of numerous competing regulatory frameworks in providing the bureaucratic framework essential to employment in NHS management and its support industries, and to deforestation.

As with all healthcare providers, ensure that their salary, once trained, is sufficiently modest to attract only those who are (or should be) committed.

When issues of professional practice arise, it is better to get someone who isn't involved in providing health care to take it on—they aren't constrained by their understanding of the system they have been asked to change, and the system will cope with all the rogue recommendations—we always have.

The fundamental principle underlying this approach is attention to detail. If we collect all information available, write detailed job plans, and provide coherent written justifications for everything, then all will be well. Good doctoring is nothing more than the sum of these individual parts, and those who argue that there is some higher value system, some “professionalism” which should be involved, belong in the past. Count everything and value nothing.

Summary of responses

Editor —Altogether 102 people wrote in response to our questions “what makes a good doctor?” and “how can we make one?” 14-1 They were clearer on the first question than the second, listing more than 70 qualities a good doctor should have. Among the usual—compassion, understanding, empathy, honesty, competence, commitment, humanity—were the less predictable: courage, creativity, a sense of justice, respect, optimism, grace.

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Responses came in from 24 countries all over the world, and almost all of the respondents had something different to say, indicating, as one respondent put it, that “a good doctor will be different things to different people at different times.” For some, the notion was very simple: a doctor who satisfies his or her patients; a doctor you would trust yourself; a doctor who likes people and likes the job; even “a doctor who feels for himself the sorrow of human kind.”

For others, it was more difficult. Like describing a good car, a good play, or good weather it all depends on your perspective. A member of the library faculty at a New York university described a good doctor as one who “reads and reads and reads.” A professor of bioethics (with an interest in medical history) argued that good doctors are also good historians, adding that medical history should take up at least a quarter of the undergraduate curriculum. Educators gave a high priority to being a good teacher, coach, and mentor. And a quality improvement specialist thought a good doctor was one who critically examined what he or she did and tried to improve on it.

Patients, however, wanted little more than a doctor who listened to them.

From this great diversity a few common themes emerged.

Firstly, there are plenty of good doctors around and we should nurture them better.

Secondly, to be a good doctor, you first have to be a good human being: “a good spouse, a good colleague, a good customer at the supermarket, a good driver on the road.”

Thirdly, it's easier to be a good doctor if you like people and genuinely want to help them. A general practitioner from Wolverhampton wrote: “To like other people, from this all else follows. Liking your patients will get you through the grind and tedium of your working day, and patient contact will be a source of strength and renewal. You may even do some good.”

Finally, good doctors, unlike good engineers, good accountants, or good firemen, are not just better than average at their job. They are special in some other way too. Extra dedicated, extra humane, or extra selfless. More traditional contributors wanted doctors to sacrifice themselves for the good of their patients. Others said doctors must look after themselves first—or they wouldn't be able to help anyone. Doctors are patients too.

Few respondents had anything to say about what makes a good doctor in specialties with little patient contact. Pathology, for example, or epidemiology. There wasn't much either on what makes a good surgeon. One of only eight contributing surgeons (a urologist from Saudi Arabia) wrote that good surgeons are “good doctors with extras.” Another surgeon said that it was important for doctors to find medicine fun, fascinating, and stimulating.

Making a good doctor seemed a greater challenge than defining one. There was general agreement, though, that we aren't very good at it. To paraphrase 13 responses: all we can hope to do is select students with the right gifts (not the right exam results) and somehow stop them from going rotten through overload cynicism and neglect during their training and early career.

One first year intern from Israel echoed several others when she suggested bad societies were unlikely to produce good doctors: “Whilst doctors are overworked, underpaid, and abused, the debate on defining a good doctor will remain academic,” she wrote. “Our society undervalues doctors yet expects and will accept nothing short of perfection . . . Even with perfect risk management mistakes will be ‘made’ . . . people will die young or decline with age, and not all pregnancies will have a good outcome. Unfortunately doctors are more easily sued than God, and moreover . . . pay cash.”

10 qualities that make a good doctor

Key takeaways.

What are the qualities that every good doctor must have? The BMJ devoted an entire issue to try to get to the bottom of it. The editors posed the question to its readers and received more than 100 responses . Here, MDLinx provides perspective on the most common qualities of a good doctor.

good doctor essay

Compassion is the "ability to identify with the suffering of another or to imagine ourselves in a similar state," wrote John Saunders, MD, MA, past chair, Committee for Ethical Issues in Medicine, Royal College of Physicians, London, UK.

Exercising compassion "is an essential component of good medical care in many situations and requires grounding in moral principles," Dr. Saunders stated, acknowledging that some people are innately disposed to be compassionate while others aren't. But those who aren't instinctively compassionate shouldn't throw in the towel. "Although our dispositions vary, compassion is a quality that can be developed in all of us."


good doctor essay

What is understanding? It's not merely knowledge or comprehension. "In a phrase, understanding is the ability to think and act with what one knows," wrote education expert David Perkins, PhD, in the book Teaching for Understanding: Linking Research with Practice .

"In keeping with this, learning for understanding is like learning a flexible performance—more like learning to improvise jazz or hold a good conversation…than learning the multiplication table," Dr. Perkins wrote. "Learning facts can be a crucial backdrop to learning for understanding, but learning facts is not learning for understanding."

What does this mean for you and your patients? You want your patients to understand your recommendations, understand how and when to take a medicine, as well as its benefits and side effects, or understand what's involved in a certain procedure and its potential outcomes. In other words, you want your patients to not only have the knowledge, but to be able to act and make decisions based on that knowledge.

Now switch places with your patient. They want you to appreciate their knowledge, and to be able to act on it accordingly. When you think about it that way, how well do you truly understand what your patient is trying to tell you?

good doctor essay

Empathic nonverbal cues vs unempathic ones. ( Photo: Kraft-Todd GT, et al; CC BY 4.0 )

In simple terms, empathy comes across as warmth. In more scholarly terms, empathy is "a social-emotional ability having two distinct components: one affective : the ability to share the emotions of others, and one cognitive : the ability to understand the emotions of others," according to authors of a recent paper on the subject.

In other words, empathy is an emotional identification of both heart and mind.

There's some thought that patients may believe that doctors who show warmth are less knowledgeable or less competent, and thus these doctors face a trade-off between being perceived as competent or as empathetic. But the authors found just the opposite in their study. Doctors who displayed empathic nonverbal behavior—such as eye contact, smiling, and uncrossed arms—were perceived as both warmer and more competent.

"Our findings might reflect a changing concept of the role of doctors in our society. No longer are they judged solely on their technical competence—that is, their ability to perform medical procedures. Rather they may increasingly be judged on their interpersonal competence—that is, their ability to navigate the difficult social interactions inherent in managing patients' illness and wellness," wrote study author Gordon T. Kraft-Todd in a Scientific American blog.

good doctor essay

Being honest with patients should be straightforward—just part of the routine. It's right there in the American Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethics .

Unfortunately, modern medicine can lead physicians into gray areas, in which the most helpful thing to say might not be the most truthful thing. In fact, one-fifth of physicians said that fudging the truth is not necessarily out of bounds, according to a 2012 nationwide survey of nearly 1,900 practicing physicians. More than 1 in 10 admitted they had told patients something untrue within the previous year.

"Some physicians might not tell patients the full truth, to avoid upsetting them or causing them to lose hope," the survey authors wrote. However, "studies of communication with gravely ill patients show that patients prefer honest and accurate information, delivered with empathy and understanding by clinicians, even when prognoses are dire."

In short, honesty is still usually the best policy when communicating with patients, especially if you convey it with genuine care and concern.

good doctor essay

"Most American physicians meet a basic threshold of competence—our system of licensure, board exams, etc. ensures that a vast majority of physicians have at least a basic level of knowledge. What most people don't appreciate, however, is that even among this group, there are large, meaningful variations in capability and clinical judgment," wrote Ashish Jha, MD, MPH , Harvard School of Public Health, Cambridge, MA.

"In measuring doctor quality, we might focus on 'soft' skills like empathy, which we can measure through patient experience surveys," Dr. Jha wrote. "But we also have to focus on intellectual skills, such as [the] ability to make difficult diagnoses and emotional intelligence, such as the ability to collaborate and effectively lead teams—and we don't really measure these things at all, erroneously assuming that all clinicians have them."

Caring is essential to be a good doctor, Dr. Jha indicated, but providing good care means keeping abreast of the best care to provide.

good doctor essay

You're probably a physician who's committed to your profession, to your patients, and to continued self-improvement. That's good news because doctors who are committed—who feel that the profession of medicine is not just a job but a calling—may be less likely to experience burnout.

"Commitment as a personal resource protects individuals from the negative effects of stress because it enables them to attach direction and meaning to their work. Without such commitment, a valuable source of protection from stress and its consequences would not be available," according to psychologists who study these issues. "Commitment is therefore a crucial resource that enables individuals to resist the effects of stress and strain in their organizational environments."

The authors discussed the concept of distancing , a defensive strategy in which physicians suffering stress begin to depersonalize their interactions with patients and turn sour against their workplace and the profession itself. When physicians feel they don't have the resources to cope with stressors (ie, they don't feel committed), then distancing sets in, and they start to consider if it's time to quit. On the other hand, having resources to cope with stressors may overcome this need for distancing while preserving feelings of commitment.

In short, if you're feeling distancing coming on, get some help and you may be able to restore your sense of calling.

good doctor essay

Sir William Osler said, "The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease." Surely, some mentor in medical school told you much the same thing: "Treat the patient, not the disease."

One of the conclusions in The BMJ survey cited at the beginning of this article: "To be a good doctor, you first have to be a good human being: 'a good spouse, a good colleague, a good customer at the supermarket, a good driver on the road.'"

Also, the authors noted, it's easier to be a good doctor if you like people and genuinely want to help them. One respondent wrote: "To like other people, from this all else follows. Liking your patients will get you through the grind and tedium of your working day, and patient contact will be a source of strength and renewal. You may even do some good."

good doctor essay

Nelson Mandela said, "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it."

The term frequently used in medicine is moral courage. "Moral courage can be defined as the voluntary willingness to stand up for and act on one's ethical beliefs despite barriers that may inhibit the ability to proceed toward right action. Such courage is critical to physicians' commitment to act in the best interest of patients," wrote authors in an article about measuring moral courage .

"Physicians commonly face situations that call for moral courage, including delivering care to an infectious patient, meeting an angry patient or family member, addressing an incompetent or impaired colleague, disclosing a medical error, and raising concerns about unethical or unsafe practices," the authors wrote.

Don't be discouraged if you can't always meet these high expectations. Remember that courage isn't always the act of trying to do what is right, but sometimes just the act of trying again.

good doctor essay

Do you give your patients the respect they deserve? "Patients are generally aware of how much their physician respects them. Physicians who have respect for particular patients provide more information and have a more positive affect in visits with those patients," according to a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Physicians reported higher levels of respect for older patients and for patients they knew well, researchers found. However, "the level of respect that physicians reported for individual patients was not significantly associated with that patient's gender, race, education, or health status," they observed.

The researchers recommended that physicians remain aware of how their feelings might impact their behavior as perceived by patients. "It might be tempting for physicians to think that their behaviors are not influenced by how they view or feel about patients. Our results suggest that ignoring this association may negatively impact patients," the study authors wrote.

On the flip side, what about patients' respect for physicians?

"MDs no longer get the same respect as we used to," said an internist in an MDLinx survey earlier this year. Still, 76% of respondents reported being very or somewhat satisfied with the social status of physicians in the United States.

"At least we are more respected than lawyers," quipped a pediatrician.

good doctor essay

Do you inspire your patients with optimism? Generally speaking, patients who are more optimistic tend to have better health outcomes. Optimism has been linked with a range of physical health benefits, from reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke to healthier levels of antioxidants and lipids. Optimism is also associated with healthier behaviors—optimists are more likely to exercise, eat more healthily, manage stress better, and abstain from smoking.

Fortunately, optimism can be learned and shaped by social influences, to some extent. Patients who have an optimistic spouse , for example, tend to have better health than patients who don't.

If nothing else, most patients would prefer a bad diagnosis to be delivered with at least a hint of hope. One meta-analysis concluded that the majority of patients with terminal illnesses and their caregivers want physicians to be honest when discussing prognosis and end-of-life issues. "However, there are different views of what constitutes an honest approach, with some desiring a straightforward or direct approach, others desiring accurate information but without bluntness or too much hard, factual, or detailed information, and still others desiring a combination of honesty and optimism," the authors wrote. Many patients and caregivers identified this combination of honesty with sensitivity and empathy as "hope giving."

So, those are the 10 qualities you need to be a good doctor. But, they're just the tip of the iceberg. A good doctor is also one who is attentive, analytical, brave, calm, cooperative, creative, decisive, energetic, ethical, friendly, gracious, humorous, investigative, knowledgeable, mature, nurturing, observant, passionate, responsible, reassuring, selfless, skillful, trustworthy, vigilant, and wise.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don't be. Remember, these criteria were suggested by your fellow physicians. What do patients want of you? Patients want little more than a doctor who listens to them, according to The BMJ survey. So if you do nothing else, do that. Listen.

Med School Insiders

What Makes a Good Doctor?

  • By Andrew Varvara
  • September 28, 2020
  • Medical Student , Pre-med
  • Lifestyle , Mental Health

You’re sitting in the exam room, waiting for the physician. He rushes in and turns his attention to the computer as he introduces himself. As he reads off questions from a screen, the interaction seems less like a personal conversation and more like a well-practiced survey. Before you feel like you’ve had the chance to fully explain your condition, he jumps to prescribing the medication. He asks, “Do you have any questions?” Of course, you do, but the whole situation is awkward, so you uncomfortably say “No, thank you.” He signs a form, exits the room, and you’re not sure if you feel any better after the interaction. If anything, you think you feel a bit worse. Even if the physician diagnosed you properly, you can’t help but think, ‘He’s not a very good doctor.’

Medical schools and residencies focus on training individuals to diagnose and treat patients. But studies show, and experiences confirm, that training alone isn’t enough to develop ‘good doctors’. What do I mean when I say ‘good doctor’? Patients and healthcare workers alike have identified key qualities that define a ‘good doctor’. By identifying and embracing these qualities, we may be able to improve medical education and training to raise the standard of care and efficacy. Three qualities that are crucial to being an effective and well-rounded physician are empathy, humility, and respect. 

Empathy: The Ability to Understand and Share the Feelings of Another

Patients care about being seen as people, not cases. A physician who understands how their patients feel can genuinely support them and make a significant difference in his or her patients’ experiences. Studies demonstrate that a close doctor-patient relationship brings a therapeutic effect ; patients’ brain regions associated with reward light-up, suggesting an increase in their satisfaction. This also strongly correlates with the likelihood of the patient adhering to their prescribed treatments. 

Think of a time when where you were on the receiving end of medical care. Once, while volunteering, I laid down on a hospital bed for new residents and let them practice an ultrasound on me. I was accustomed to talking with patients who were laying in bed, but I was surprised by how intimidating it was to be the one in the bed, surrounded by strangers. Imagine how a patient in pain, who’s in the hospital for the first time, might feel! It’s crucial to remind ourselves of the patient’s perspective. 

Additionally, as physicians, we must understand how the patient might experience their illness and recognize the nuances of each patient. This includes considering their background leading up to the visit, the stress they may be feeling, and anything concerns they may bring up during the visit. We shouldn’t forget that the pathologies and symptoms that seem routine to us could be foreign and frightening for our patients.

Humility: A Modest View of One’s Importance

Physicians are justifiably respected for their professions. Anyone who dedicates years to studying in order to save lives should be confident in their ability to do so. But it’s important to remind oneself how easily confidence can become arrogance. Good physicians recognize the limits of their abilities. When talking with a patient to diagnose symptoms, they listen to their patient’s concerns. Even when a patient fearfully lists irrelevant symptoms, physicians should respond with empathetic reassurance rather than a dismissal of their concerns.

Respect: Regard for the Importance of Your Peers and How They Contribute to the Overall Quality of Patient Care

Good physicians have respect for fellow healthcare workers. Nurses I’ve worked with have told me that the best physicians are the ones who actively support their team with small contributions . For example, instead of idly standing by the door, good physicians will help nurses and paramedics slide a patient from the stretcher to the bed. Even as a doctor, respect is not given – it is earned. A random act of kindness, or the humility to aid in a peers’ responsibilities, can speak volumes and boost morale.

How Doctors Can Become ‘Bad’

We’ve all either experienced or heard stories about bad doctors. Despite the decades of medical school and residency admission protocols to accept students who would become good doctors, bad ones still exist. However, this isn’t necessarily due to the selection process failing to pick the best applicants. Often, our current system turns them into stressed, overworked, and thus, less effective physicians.

Burnout: a State of Emotional, Physical, and Mental Exhaustion

A burned-out doctor is not a good doctor. They carry less empathy, humility, and can even get angry at patients. Evidence suggests that 40-60% of physicians are burned out and the physician suicide rate is double the national average . Several studies suggested that the degree of empathy shown by medical students declines over the course o f their training – and . It doesn’t get much better afterward. The literature points to countless causes of physician burnout as a physician. Although preventative measures are often implemented, such as capping residency workweeks to 80 hours/week instead of 120-150 hours, the medical field still has a lot to do to support happier and healthier doctors . Furthermore, when we see “bad doctors”, we must practice some empathy ourselves to consider their perspectives and support the efforts to fight burnout. Advocating the cultivation of a medical culture that creates happier, healthier, and more effective doctors, Med School Insiders runs a #SaveOurDoctors initiative to battle against the medical student and physician burnout.

Do You Have What It Takes to Become a Good Doctor?

Medicine is grueling, and the growing problem of physician burnout is worth considering before dedicating your career to it. Fortunately, there are a few ways to determine if you’d make a good doctor.

Think About Why You Want to Pursue Medicine

The golden question for medical school apps, and rightfully so. Dig deep, and see if you want to become a physician for the right reasons.

Ask Yourself: Am I Willing to Do What it Takes?

Research the path of becoming a doctor . Consider the opportunity costs and alternatives. For example, there are many careers where you can help people in a medical capacity, that aren’t as strenuous as being a physician. Instead, you may be able to fulfill your medical interests by becoming a nurse, physician assistant, or even a physical therapist .

Make Sure You Actually Understand What Doctors Do

There’s a reason why medical schools require shadowing experience. Shadowing a physician allows you to see for yourself what doctors realistically do on a day-to-day basis. This will give you a feel for what most of your days would look like. You don’t want to go through the rigor of medical schools to find out that it’s very different from what you’ve seen in Grey’s Anatomy !

Spend Time in Healthcare

Lastly, volunteer or work in the hospital. Similar to shadowing, this will show you what it’s like to be a doctor and work in a hospital. You’ll learn the differences between health professions such as being a nurse vs a doctor vs Certified Nursing Assistant. You’ll also be able to observe the dynamics among health professionals and how they work together to care for patients. Take note of the different environments at play and consider whether you would enjoy being there for the rest of your career. 

The Takeaway

Every patient deserves a good doctor. Although the medical education system strives to produce the best doctors, our physicians are ridden with burnout, damaging the quality of healthcare. However, if we stay proactive against burnout and pursue medicine for the right reasons with realistic expectations, we can take a step in the right direction to ensure every patient receives quality care.

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Andrew Varvara

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How To Be A Good Doctor Essay

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What Are The Qualities Of A Good Doctor?

Home » Application Guide » What Are The Qualities Of A Good Doctor?

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Medicine is a vocational course that demands resilient professionalism under a core set of values that is imperative in our care of the most fragile in our society. If you can’t demonstrate that you understand what it means to be a good doctor, your academic achievements won’t be enough to get you into Medical School and excel in your future careers. 

So what are the skills and qualities of a good doctor? 

The Skills and Qualities of a Doctor

One of the best ways to define the skills and qualities that makes a good doctor is from hearing what the experts in the field say. These are the people that have seen the good and bad qualities of doctors, and the impact these qualities have on patients and healthcare as a whole.

Sir Peter Rubin (Chair of the General Medical Council from 2009-2014) stated that “Doctors have the enormous privilege of touching and changing lives. Through all the changes driven by research and public expectations, some of the art and science of medicine has endured down the ages and defines medicine as a profession, whatever a doctor’s area of practice.”

He goes on to list some core skills and qualities of doctors, starting with being able to synthesise conflicting and incomplete information to reach a diagnosis. The next is dealing with uncertainty:

Deal With Uncertainty

“Protocols are great, but doctors often must work off-protocol in the best interests of the patient, for example, when the best treatment for one condition may make a co-existing condition worse.”

Manage Risk

“Many patients are alive today because doctors took risks and as doctors, we bring all our professional experience to bear on knowing when acceptable, informed and carefully considered risk ends and recklessness begins – and we share that information openly and honestly with our patients, always respecting that the final decision is theirs.”

Recognise That Change Both In Medicine And Society Is Constant

“Ensuring that those standards, which are immutable, are preserved while those that are simply a product of their time are consigned to history carry and accept ultimate responsibility for our actions.”

Need help demonstrating key qualities of doctors to Admissions Tutors?

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Signing up to the Interview Bundle means you’ll be guided by Medicine Interview experts who will help you demonstrate that you meet the key selection criteria Admissions Tutors look for. 

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Sir Peter Rubin finishes by saying “Those of us who practise and teach medicine now are merely the custodians of those core values which were passed on to us by earlier generations and which we, in turn, will pass on to those who come after us. It is these values and these qualities which define a good doctor: they are timeless and long may they remain so.” 

Focussing on the qualities and skills more specifically, here are further attributes that are described as the fundamentals of being a good doctor.

Good Communication Skills

As Dr. John Madden of St. George’s University mentions, “Being a good listener is critical to being a good doctor.” Effective communication with patients is key to understanding patients’ issues and concerns but also to explain a diagnosis to them. When explaining a diagnosis, good communication skills are highlighted by taking into account a patient’s medical knowledge so they understand exactly what the situation is, however difficult it may be for them, such as when a diagnosis is terminal.

Regarding communication skills, the GMC say that Doctors must be able to:

  • Treat patients as individuals and respect their dignity.
  • Work in partnership with patients.
  • Work with colleagues in the ways that best serve patients' interests.

Having good communication skills opens many doors. You will be an excellent person to include in any team and a hit once you start talking to patients. Communication skills are not solely for medical school interviews and the medical school itself; they are vital throughout a doctor’s entire career. They will really define you as a doctor. 

We break down communication skills in much more detail in our guide here and explain how you can improve and demonstrate these skills during interviews.


Doctors must maintain professionalism at all times. As a doctor, you have a duty to treat all patients with respect and display appropriate emotional maturity across interactions. Doing this will also help patients feel more comfortable and trust you with their health. It’s important to note that it doesn’t just end with patients, it is also your responsibility to ensure that your colleagues provide nothing but the best patient support they can.

There are, of course, many more qualities that we have not explored in detail such as emotional intelligence, leadership skills, attention to detail, teamwork skills, strong work ethic and curiosity. If you are still craving further details, check out the GMC website.

How Can I Be A Good Doctor?

Throughout your time in medical school and during the first few years after you graduate, you will pick up an unfathomable amount of skills that will help you to become a good doctor. The good news is that you don’t have to wait until you start further education to begin developing these skills. In fact, you likely already have some of them, which makes it crucial to discuss these in your personal statement and interviews. 

Do I already have some of the skills and qualities?

The Medical Schools Council (MSC) has a list of qualities that you should be able to demonstrate to medical schools.

  • Motivation to study Medicine and genuine interest in the medical profession
  • Insight into your own strengths and weaknesses
  • Personal organisation
  • Academic ability
  • Problem solving
  • Risk management and an ability to deal effectively with problems
  • Ability to take responsibility for your own actions
  • Effective communication, including reading, writing, listening and speaking
  • Resilience and the ability to deal with difficult situations
  • Empathy and the ability to care for others.

How many of these qualities can you tick off, and more importantly, do you have evidence of times you demonstrated them?

This is what Oxford University say are the personal characteristics they look for in applicants applying to their Medicine Degree.

Similar to the MSC list, do you have the skills listed by Oxford? If by some bizarre coincidence, everyone reading this is applying to Oxford, then you can just use what Oxford say above. However, if you’re not applying to Oxford, most med schools tend to explain the key qualities they look for/expect of their students. Make sure you check the websites of the med schools you are applying to. 

We have plenty of free guides available at 6med to help you understand these qualities better, including resilience , empathy and ethics . If you are looking to demonstrate these qualities effectively, our Complete Medicine Bundle helps you to explain the qualities in your Personal Statement and during your Interviews. 

How can you demonstrate skills and qualities?

Your aim at interview is to try to get the Admissions Tutors to tick off the qualities we mentioned earlier. This means you should focus on personal experiences that demonstrate the qualities of a good doctor.

We cover this more in our guide on how to demonstrate the key qualities of a doctor , but here are a few ideas:

1. Effective Communication

  • I took part in regular debating workshops and competitions at school – I had to articulate complicated points and present arguments to an audience.
  • Also, I had to be respectful towards other people and their opinions.

2. Good Teamwork

  • I led a team for the school’s enterprise challenge: we had to design a business plan and pitch for a phone application. Good teamwork was the reason we won.
  • During my work experience in hospitals, I shadowed a doctor who was in an MDT that was treating a patient with muscle dystrophy. I worked closely with various people, such as physiotherapists, nurses, other doctors, etc.

3. The Realities Of Being A Doctor

  • I shadowed a junior doctor for a day – I contributed by helping with routine paperwork, filing, phoning up GP surgeries, inserting data into a computer, etc.
  • He stressed how fulfilling it is to see a patient get better and that medicine surprises you all the time.

4. Leadership and Handling Pressure

  • I led the charity week committee at school which raised £16,000.
  • I had to delegate tasks to team members, as well as motivate the group when times were bad and I realised how important it was to listen to individuals.
  • I witnessed a surgeon make the decision to call off surgery because the risk of intervention was just too high. He made the final decision alone but he considered people’s opinions.

If you feel weaker in some areas, for example, you don’t think you’re decisive enough – that’s completely fine, but make sure you know how you’re going to work on these weak areas and show the medical school you’re trying to improve.

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What Makes A Good Doctor Interview Question

You may be asked the exact question “what makes a good doctor?”, but it is more common that you’ll be asked a question related to this and your motivation for becoming a doctor. Here are some examples of the questions with some answers:

Why did you choose Medicine?

The classic medicine interview question – you definitely want to specifically prepare this one and use it as a framework for other ones.

There are many ways to answer this. In this example, we state a reason, explain it then support it with evidence. You can alternatively, for instance, base your whole answer around an experience, or multiple experiences.

Start with a direct answer to the question listing main points.

I like medicine because it connects science and art.

Explain your two points.

Medicine is a science – as a doctor, you use medicine to manipulate the body to respond effectively to disease. This requires knowledge and understanding of the way our body has evolved to work. Application of this knowledge (based on understanding) is necessary to make informed clinical decisions.

Art – there aren’t always clear rules dictating how best to treat a patient. A doctor needs to weigh pros/cons of treatments, treat patients with empathy, approach ethical dilemmas.

Medicine allows me to directly help people and make a positive difference while being challenged/mentally stimulated.

Medicine is a unique career that cannot be pursued based on anecdotal evidence or through reading the description of the job alone. Hence why I arranged work experience to find out more about the career .

Giving supporting evidence of being proactive. Evidence and experience are what makes your question more personal.

Be sure to use the STARR technique when citing experience.

The job doesn’t only involve treating patients. It involves constant learning, teaching colleagues, supporting colleagues. [expand…]

This shows a good understanding of the career and the qualities of a good doctor.

What aspects of being a doctor DON'T appeal to you?

The key is to maintain a balanced view. You should be aware of the flaws while not making the profession seem all doom and gloom – justifying why it’s a fit for you. Maintain positivity without belittling these problems. Here are some drawbacks to being a doctor along with counter-arguments, they further show your understanding of the qualities of a good doctor:

The job can be very stressful as being a doctor is such a great responsibility – stress can affect personal life, the time-commitment can also affect personal life

Counter: It’s important to find a good work-life balance. A good coping mechanism could be not compromising hobbies / extra-curricular.

You could mention how you are dealing with this currently – what extracurricular activities do you do?

Being too attached to patients – the burden of their life can be difficult to bear. Dealing with death can be hard.

Counter: It’s important to talk to people and not bottle up feelings. Thankfully, there is plenty of support available for doctors.

Refer to the specific support available to doctors. You could mention an example of an occasion where you spoke out or helped someone else with problems they had.

You could potentially get a question on your weaknesses – we recommend you try to avoid giving an answer that’s considered a key quality in a doctor.

It is clear, from these questions, that having a solid understanding of the qualities of a good doctor is crucial for formulating the answers that tick the Admissions Tutors’ boxes. Aside from meeting the preferred characteristics that medical schools are looking for, developing the key qualities early will set you up for the careers ahead of you. Take your time now, before the application deadline and interview season, to work through the key qualities, see how you meet them and prepare examples of times you demonstrated them.  

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What's a good doctor, and how can you make one?

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By marrying the applied scientist to the medical humanist

  • Brian Hurwitz , professor of medicine and the arts. ,
  • Alex Vass , editorial registrar.
  • School of Humanities, King's College London, London WC2R 2LS
I remember the time Shipman gave to my Dad. He would come around at the drop of a hat. He was a marvellous GP apart from the fact that he killed my father. 1

Are you a good doctor? This question is increasingly being asked by patients, governments, third party healthcare payers, and newspaper, radio, and TV investigators. It also topped the list of suggestions for BMJ theme issues in a recent ballot of users and BMA members. But why?


Claims and complaints against doctors are growing worldwide. In the United Kingdom, a series of inquiries has ushered in probably the most sustained investigation and collective appraisal of medical and healthcare institutions since the NHS began. The performance of individual clinicians, laboratory and clinical units, the frequency of medical mistakes, the unacceptability of organ retention practices, and the adequacy of death certification procedures are only a few of many medical activities now subject to intense scrutiny. 2 – 8 A debate has thereby been prompted about the sort of doctors society wants and expects, and the need for answers is heightened by expansion in spending on medical education and health services.

One approach to defining a good doctor equates the answer with the skills of an applied scientist: good doctors combine individual clinical expertise and best available external evidence; they are thoughtful, evidence based practitioners who use “intangible personal resources” in the care of their patients. 9 10 Another approach lies buried in the Socratic dictum “Know thyself,” an exhortation discernible in the importance the General Medical Council attaches to vocationalism in medicine and to the personal qualities required of its practitioners, including truthfulness and a reflective turn of mind open to audit and to learning from mistakes. Readers from 24 countries responding to a BMJ debate about what makes a good doctor allude to desirable personal qualities more prominently than proficiency in knowledge and technical skills (p 715 ).

The psychiatrist Jeremy Holmes, writing in this issue (p 722 ), renders Socrates' dictum in a more modern, psychological form by acknowledging that the inner life of most doctors necessitates grappling with contradictoriness and incoherence of thoughts and feelings. If this state of affairs is the norm, reflecting on good and disapproved of aspects of the self will help doctors to become “good enough” practitioners.

But the proliferation of formal medical assessment agencies signifies that conscience and reflectivity—could they be reliably discerned—no longer offer credible guarantees of goodness in doctors. Five years ago, Richard Smith spelled out a population based rationale for setting up monitoring systems premised on the view that all doctors could potentially become problem doctors: “Think how surprised we would be by a community of 130 000 (the number of doctors in Britain) where nobody committed serious crimes, went mad, misused drugs, slacked on the job, became corrupt, lost competence, or exploited their position.” 11

Society and government now look towards a mix of healthcare process and outcome variables for evidence of clinical competence (p 704 )and, where possible, to markers of compliance with standards, guidelines, and clinical service frameworks. Are such variables set to become surrogate measures of the goodness of practitioners?

Does the notion of goodness have anything to add to what we want from doctors once their competence and performance have been specified and verified? After all, when “good” (as an adjective) qualifies “doctor,” a great deal of its meaning is determined by what is meant by “doctor.” 12 This, in turn, is set out in education and training curricula (p 718 ) and in the knowledge, competences, and values to be demonstrated in the process of gaining a primary medical qualification. 13 When it comes to doctoring, the term “good” increasingly functions as a descriptive label that denotes having met certain tests of competency.

A poor doctor is generally credited with good intentions but inadequate knowledge or skills required for the job, and there seems little doubt that some poorly performing doctors will be picked out by performance monitoring procedures. But what about bad doctors? A bad doctor, however skilled, is one with bad intentions, undesirable values, suspect—occasionally evil—motives. Judging someone a bad doctor implies serious defects of moral agency, even though these may coexist with commendable aspects of medical practice, as the above statement from the son of one of Harold Shipman's victims makes plain. Although the death rate of Shipman's patient list turned out to be high when examined retrospectively, performance outcome measures cannot detect bad doctors in all possible circumstances.

The varieties of good, poor, and bad doctors are diverse and may sometimes coexist in the same individual. This does not make becoming a good doctor an unattainable ideal. Medical education today should be aiming to marry the skills and sensitivities of the applied scientist to the reflective capabilities of the medical humanist.

Conflict of interest None declared.

  • 1. ↵ Christopher Rudol, quoted in Barkham P. The Shipman Report . Times 2002 July 20 : 15 .
  • 2. ↵ Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General. Handling clinical negligence claims in England. London : Stationery Office , 2001 . (HC 403 Session 2000-2001 3 May 2001.)
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good doctor essay


Essay on Qualities of a Good Doctor

Students are often asked to write an essay on Qualities of a Good Doctor in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Qualities of a Good Doctor

A good doctor should have empathy, understanding patients’ feelings and concerns. This helps in building trust and improving patient-doctor relationships.

Communication Skills

Good doctors communicate effectively, explaining complex medical terms in simple language. This ensures patients understand their health conditions and treatment plans.

Professional Knowledge

Doctors should have a strong grasp of medical knowledge. They should be updated with the latest medical research to provide the best care.

Patience is key, as some patients may require more time to express their issues. Good doctors listen attentively without rushing.

Doctors should have high ethical standards, respecting patients’ privacy and making decisions in the best interest of patients.

250 Words Essay on Qualities of a Good Doctor


A good doctor is a paragon of professional competence, empathy, and ethics, serving as a beacon of hope for patients navigating the treacherous waters of illness. The qualities that make a good doctor are multifaceted, ranging from technical expertise to interpersonal skills.

Professional Competence

A good doctor must possess a solid foundation of medical knowledge, keeping abreast with the latest developments in their field. This requires a commitment to lifelong learning, as medicine is an ever-evolving discipline. Their decision-making should be evidence-based, drawing on the best available research to guide their practice.

Effective communication is paramount in a doctor’s role. They must be able to explain complex medical conditions in a way that patients can understand, fostering trust and cooperation. Good doctors also listen attentively, recognizing that each patient is a unique individual with their own concerns and experiences.

Empathy and Compassion

Empathy and compassion are the cornerstones of good patient care. A good doctor must be able to understand and share the feelings of their patients. This emotional connection can significantly enhance the therapeutic relationship, fostering an environment of mutual respect and understanding.

Ethical Practice

Lastly, a good doctor must adhere to high ethical standards. This includes respecting patient autonomy, maintaining confidentiality, and avoiding conflicts of interest. Ethical practice is fundamental to building trust and safeguarding the integrity of the medical profession.

In conclusion, a good doctor embodies a blend of technical expertise, effective communication, empathy, and ethical practice. These qualities not only enhance patient care but also uphold the nobility and prestige of the medical profession.

500 Words Essay on Qualities of a Good Doctor

The medical profession is one of the most revered and respected professions globally. It demands a unique blend of knowledge, skills, and personal traits. A good doctor is not only defined by their medical prowess but also by their ability to interact with patients compassionally and empathetically. This essay explores the essential qualities that make a good doctor.

Medical Expertise

A good doctor must possess a robust knowledge base, demonstrating a thorough understanding of various diseases, their symptoms, and the appropriate treatment protocols. They must be committed to lifelong learning, given the rapid advancements in medical science. Staying updated with the latest research findings and incorporating them into their practice is a hallmark of a good doctor.

Effective communication is crucial in the medical field. A good doctor should be able to explain complex medical conditions and treatments in a way that patients can understand. They should also be good listeners, allowing patients to express their concerns and fears. This two-way communication builds trust and is vital for a successful doctor-patient relationship.

Empathy and compassion are at the heart of the medical profession. A good doctor should be able to empathize with their patients, understanding their emotional state and showing genuine concern for their well-being. They should treat their patients with kindness and respect, regardless of their background or circumstances.


Professionalism encompasses a range of behaviors and attitudes that are expected of a good doctor. This includes respect for patient confidentiality, maintaining appropriate boundaries, and adhering to ethical guidelines. A good doctor should also display a high level of commitment, responsibility, and integrity in their work.

Problem-solving Skills

Every patient presents a unique set of symptoms and challenges. A good doctor should have excellent problem-solving skills, enabling them to make accurate diagnoses and develop effective treatment plans. They should be able to think critically, analyze complex information, and make informed decisions under pressure.

In conclusion, a good doctor is a blend of medical expertise, effective communication, empathy, professionalism, and problem-solving skills. These qualities not only make them competent healthcare providers but also trusted allies in the patient’s journey towards health and well-being. The medical profession is more than just a job; it is a calling that demands the highest level of dedication, compassion, and skill.

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

If you’re looking for more, here are essays on other interesting topics:

  • Essay on Importance of Doctors
  • Essay on Duties of a Doctor
  • Essay on Role of Doctor in Society

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  • Volume 49, Issue 4
  • What makes a ‘good doctor’? A critical discourse analysis of perspectives from medical students with lived experience as patients
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  • Erene Stergiopoulos 1 ,
  • Maria Athina (Tina) Martimianakis 2
  • 1 Department of Psychiatry , University of Toronto , Toronto , Ontario , Canada
  • 2 Department of Paediatrics , University of Toronto , Toronto , Ontario , Canada
  • Correspondence to Erene Stergiopoulos, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; erene.stergiopoulos{at}

What constitutes a ‘good doctor’ varies widely across groups and contexts. While patients prioritise communication and empathy, physicians emphasise medical expertise, and medical students describe a combination of the two as professional ideals. We explored the conceptions of the ‘good doctor’ held by medical learners with chronic illnesses or disabilities who self-identify as patients to understand how their learning as both patients and future physicians aligns with existing medical school curricula. We conducted 10 semistructured interviews with medical students with self-reported chronic illness or disability and who self-identified as patients. We used critical discourse analysis to code for dimensions of the ‘good doctor’. In turn, using concepts of Bakhtinian intersubjectivity and the hidden curriculum we explored how these discourses related to student experiences with formal and informal curricular content.

According to participants, dimensions of the ‘good doctor’ included empathy, communication, attention to illness impact and boundary-setting to separate self from patients. Students reported that formal teaching on empathy and illness impact were present in the formal curriculum, however ultimately devalued through day-to-day interactions with faculty and peers. Importantly, teaching on boundary-setting was absent from the formal curriculum, however participants independently developed reflective practices to cultivate these skills. Moreover, we identified two operating discourses of the ‘good doctor’: an institutionalised discourse of the ‘able doctor’ and a counterdiscourse of the ‘doctor with lived experience’ which created a space for reframing experiences with illness and disability as a source of expertise rather than a source of stigma. Perspectives on the ‘good doctor’ carry important implications for how we define professional roles, and hold profound consequences for medical school admissions, curricular teaching and licensure. Medical students with lived experiences of illness and disability offer critical insights about curricular messages of the ‘good doctor’ based on their experiences as patients, providing important considerations for curriculum and faculty development.

  • medical education
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  • health care education

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Concepts of the ‘good doctor’ vary widely across groups and contexts. Existing definitions typically frame the ideal physician as having specific characteristics, such as communication skills, clinical acumen or empathy ( Whitehead, Hodges, and Austin 2013 ). How we define the ‘good doctor’ directly relates to concepts of competence, and influences medical student selection, curricular content and the design of learner evaluations ( Whitehead, Hodges, and Austin 2013 ; Schreurs et al. 2018 ; Stegers-Jager 2018 ; Steiner-Hofbauer, Schrank, and Holzinger 2018 ). In admissions, for example, such definitions determine selection criteria for weighing and evaluating academic and personal prerequisites of applicants ( Whitehead, Hodges, and Austin 2013 ; Schreurs et al . 2018 ; Stegers-Jager 2018 ). Concepts of the ‘good doctor’ also directly influence curricular efforts aimed to produce more effective doctors ( Stegers-Jager 2018 ). Beyond training, how the medical community defines the ideal physician carries implications for licensure requirements, practice standards and procedures for disciplining practitioners ( Stergiopoulos, Hodges, and Martimianakis 2020 ).

The international literature reveals discernable patterns in how different groups perceive what constitutes a ‘good doctor’. A recent systematic review of studies examining the characteristics of good doctors in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Romania, Iran, Israel, Australia, Mozambique, Singapore, Korea and the USA found significant variations existed between patients’, doctors’ and medical students’ perceptions of the ideal physician ( Steiner-Hofbauer, Schrank, and Holzinger 2018 ). Across the literature, patients place a strong emphasis on communication skills, compassion or humanism, shared decision-making, and the doctor-patient relationship ( Coulter 2002 ; Johns 2016 ; Kim et al . 2015 ; Levine 2004 ; O’Donnabhain and Friedman 2018 ; Wensing et al. 1998 ). Physicians, in contrast, frequently rate medical competence, expertise, clinical relationship, professional dedication, lifelong learning, safety, resource stewardship and ethics as important, often valuing these over communication or interpersonal qualities ( Bishop et al . 2017 ; Davidson et al . 2019 ; Hertzberg et al . 2016 ; Kim et al. 2015 ; Lambe and Bristow 2010 ; Steiner-Hofbauer, Schrank, and Holzinger 2018 ). Notably, medical students in this literature represented a hybrid category, prioritising a combination of medical competence, empathy and interpersonal qualities as hallmarks of the ‘good doctor’( Cuesta-Briand et al. 2014 ; Gillies et al . 2009 ; Maudsley, Williams, and Taylor 2007 ; Muddiman et al . 2019 ; Steiner-Hofbauer, Schrank, and Holzinger 2018 ).

In medical education, sociocultural research demonstrates how the socialising processes of professional identity construction become foundational for disseminating concepts of the ‘good doctor’ for both students and educators ( Bennett et al . 2017 ; Monrouxe 2009 ; Stubbing, Helmich, and Cleland 2018 ). These concepts in turn rely on the assumption that there is an ideal way of performing the ‘good doctor’ role, which itself becomes the goal of training in medical education ( Bennett et al . 2017 ). As Whitehead (2012) and Bennett et al . (2017) have argued, medical education increasingly has framed the ‘good doctor’ identity as a ‘uniform set of values, attitudes and behaviours … proposed as the pinnacle of a ‘completed’ process of professional identity formation’ ( Bennett et al . 2017 ). This move to standardise the successful ‘good doctor’ role, however, limits the space of possibility for medical students to construct diverse physician identities, and ignores the lived experiences they bring to their training ( Bennett et al. 2017 ; Fergus et al . 2018 ; Helmich et al . 2017 ; Stubbing, Helmich, and Cleland 2018 ). Indeed, medical students must navigate complex and often conflicting messages from their learning environments and personal life about what it means to be a ‘good doctor’, providing an emerging and productive avenue of research in medical education ( Bennett et al . 2017 ; Stubbing, Helmich, and Cleland 2018 ).

As medical training programmes internationally have sharpened their focus on equity, diversity and inclusion, disability and lived experience of illness have increasingly become recognised as important and under-represented identities in medicine ( Battalova et al . 2020 ; Meeks, Herzer, and Jain 2018 ; Stergiopoulos and Rosenburg 2020 ; Meeks and Jain 2018 ). The growing literature on medical students with disabilities has revealed that these learners face pervasive social, cultural and structural barriers to accessing and performing in educational environments ( Meeks, Herzer, and Jain 2018 ; Meeks, Herzer, and Jain 2018 ; Jain 2020a ; Jarus et al . 2022 ; Meeks et al . 2022 ; Stergiopoulos, Fernando, and Martimianakis 2018 ). These barriers include social stigma and fear of downstream consequences of disclosure, absent or burdensome accommodations processes, inflexible curricula and training programmes ( Meeks, Herzer, and Jain 2018 ; Jain 2020b ). Moreover, these learners frequently lack physician role models who openly disclose disability, which further emphasises a socialised separation between physician and patient, and produces an environment where the concept of a physician with a disability is perceived as inappropriate for the profession ( Stergiopoulos, Fernando, and Martimianakis 2018 ; Stergiopoulos, Fragoso, and Meeks 2021 ). Yet learners with disabilities bring unique expertise to the profession, with a unique epistemic lens on the dual provider-patient role, which informs their clinical practice ( Battalova et al . 2020 ; Stergiopoulos, Fernando, and Martimianakis 2018 ).

To our knowledge, no research to date has examined perspectives on the ‘good doctor’ from medical students with disabilities. These learners hold valuable insights on their education through their dual perspectives as both patients and doctors-in-training ( Stergiopoulos, Fernando, and Martimianakis 2018 ). As simultaneous insiders and outsiders to the medical profession, they possess a unique and unstudied lens for understanding how framings of the ‘good doctor’ in medical education impact socialisation and professional identity construction ( Stergiopoulos, Fernando, and Martimianakis 2018 ). Moreover, their insider/outsider lens brings valuable hybrid expertise to understanding and navigating concepts of the ‘good doctor’. In our study of North American medical learners, we examined disabled medical students’ conceptions of their own positions as both learners and patients, and thus we use the language of patient and disability interchangeably. We do acknowledge however that among disabled medical students as a whole, there are those who do not identify as patients. Within medical training, framing of the ‘good doctor’ occurs both explicitly through the formal curriculum (directly learnt concepts and didactic material) and implicitly through the hidden curriculum (tacit learning that emerges via institutional language, interactions, culture, practices and policy) ( Craig, Scott, and Blackwood 2018 ; Michalec and Hafferty 2013 ). In this study, we aimed to uncover (1) How medical students who self-identify as patients perceived the ‘good doctor’ and (2) How these perceptions aligned with the formal and hidden curricula of their school.

Participants and setting

The present study reports on the second part of a two-part study that examined the socialisation experiences of medical students with disabilities. Specifically, we describe how discourses of the ‘good doctor’ construct identity and subjectivity in medical students with lived experience of chronic illness or disability and how these students perceive what makes a ‘good doctor’ given their experience as patients. Medical students from all years of study were emailed via listserv, and students who self-identified as having patient experiences (due to chronic illness, mental health challenges, learning, sensory and mobility disabilities) were invited to participate in 45–60 min interviews about their experiences in medical school. Patients or the public were involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of our research. E.S., as first author of this research study, is a medical trainee with lived experience as a patient. The research question, design and analysis were developed collaboratively by E.S. and T.M., who is an education scientist. Thus, patient priorities and preferences were considered in developing, designing, selecting outcome measures and recruiting participants for this research via team meetings and discussion of patient, family and caregiver positions in the experience of receiving medical care. Moreover, in the dissemination of study results, E.S.’s role as a learner with lived patient experience has informed the routes for sharing this work, which include the #DocsWithDisabilities podcast (University of Michigan) and the International Symposium for Disability Access in Health Science Education, which assembles health science educators and administrators to discuss best practices for creating inclusive and accommodating environments for all learners.

Fifteen students responded to the call, and 10 students proceeded to participate in audio-recorded semistructured interviews exploring their relationships with peers, faculty and their own care teams; attitudes towards the curriculum; and impact of their patient perspective on training (see Interview Guide in online supplemental appendix ). During the interview, participants had the option to self-disclose their illness or disability but were not required to do so. Reproduction of core experience typically occurs between six and eight participants among relatively homogeneous groups ( Onwuegbuzie and Leech 2007 ). Since we were interested in socialisation experiences that repeated themselves across participants’ clinical encounters as both learners and patients we thus aimed to recruit 10 to 12 participants ( Fusch and Ness 2015 ; Onwuegbuzie and Leech 2007 ). Interviews were transcribed by a professional transcription service, deidentified, and inputted into NVivo software, V.11 for qualitative analysis ( QSR International 2020 ).

Supplemental material

We used a sociocultural lens to study professional identity construction in medical learners with lived experience of chronic illness or disability. We understand identity as discursively constructed through language and action, rather than an individual psychological process. Using a sociocultural approach allowed us to study how identities are constrained or co-constructed through language and social action in the medical education environment ( Monrouxe and Rees 2015 ). Thus, we used principles of critical discourse analysis to identify how language and social practices in medical education reinforce and reproduce learner understandings of specific objects or phenomena ( Hodges et al . 2014 ; Kuper, Whitehead, and Hodges 2013 ). Coding was inductive, and tracked participants’ perceptions of the ‘good doctor’ and via both tacit (implied) and explicit (directly stated) accounts of influences emerging in their daily activities and interactions. We generated codes through iterative reading and memos, and confirmed saturation of major themes via multiple team meetings We also tracked descriptions of the ‘good doctor’ that matched existing literature based on a scoping literature review of this topic, and identified descriptions that were unique to our study’s participant group.

We refined the codes and analytical conclusions using Bakhtin’s theory of intersubjectivity, given that participants described highly social and interactional scenarios ( Bakhtin 1986 ). Intersubjectivity describes ways in which meaning emerges through interactions between subjects ( Bakhtin 1986 ). It provides a frame for understanding how meaning is developed and understood vis-à-vis ‘the other’. Applied to doctor-patient relationships, intersubjectivity demonstrates the way the meaning of illness is mediated not only by the standpoint of the patient, but by their interactions and communications with the physician ( Kuper 2007 ). Knowledge is thus created by the interaction between two or more subjectivities.

Within medical education specifically, Bakhtinian discursive approaches provide a productive analytical lens for work on professional identity construction. Prior studies in this area use Bakhtin’s concept of figured worlds to theorise how medical learners understand their professional identity by negotiating overlapping and competing discourses of the ‘good doctor’ ( Bennett et al . 2017 ; Stubbing, Helmich, and Cleland 2018 ). Given that our participants held multiple subject positions as learners and patients, following Kuper we also drew from Haraway’s notion of dispersion of the self to describe the shared partial perspectives that participants described in encounters with patients and with their physicians ( Haraway 1991 ; Kuper 2007 ). Dispersion provided a framework for understanding how this subset of medical students embodied multiple roles while simultaneously creating meaning with other subjects (eg, patients, peers and supervisors). As a result, we tracked the roles students played in formative interactions, either as patients, clinical observers or care providers on the clinical team. Finally, we applied the analytical lens of the hidden curriculum to understand how participant perspectives on the ‘good doctor’ aligned or mismatched with formal teaching and informal curricular messaging by tracking institutional messages, culture and language related to ‘good doctoring’ observed or experienced by participants ( Hafferty 1998 ). Rather than comparing directly to actual course syllabi, we were interested in documenting participants’ perceived alignments and misalignments between formal expectations and their own lived experience. This allowed us to keep track of hidden curriculum effects that were unique to individual participants but also to patterns that cut across all participant experiences.

Ten students participated in the study, representing multiple health conditions and levels of training ( table 1 ). We present our results in two ways. First, we present a narrative vignette amalgamating participants’ lived experiences . Using a vignette, we aimed to represent the interactional dimensions of our analysis, particularly to illustrate the concept of dispersion of self . All aspects of the scenario are derived from learner experiences, however identifying details have been changed to preserve sufficient anonymity while translating key formative experiences. We ensured representation across participants’ experiences by explicitly drawing out examples that highlighted core themes identified in the analysis. Moreover, any patients described in the vignette are fictional, and not based on specific persons or clinical cases. In doing so, we show how these interactions shape learner identity, and highlight the particular identity effect of dispersion of self as participants navigated both patient and provider positions.

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Participant demographics*

Second, we use the concept of intersubjectivity to identify participants’ perceived dimensions of the ‘good doctor’, as a specific appreciation of how they internalise dominant cultural expectations for succeeding as healthcare providers. We present findings on the hidden curriculum, and the alignment of participants’ perspectives of the ‘good doctor’ with formal and informal curricular messages about what constitutes ‘good care’. We then report on two overarching discourses of the ‘good doctor’ operating within our study context.

Intersubjectivity and dimensions of the ‘good doctor’

We identified three primary dimensions of the ‘good doctor’. These varied according to participants’ embodied roles in the clinical encounter (patient, clinical observer or provider) ( table 2 ). We used the concepts of intersubjectivity and dispersion of the self to make sense of these multiple roles and participants’ alignment with one or more perspectives ( Bakhtin 1986 ; Haraway 1991 ). As demonstrated in the vignette below based on aggregated and de-identified student narratives, participants aligned with different identities in different geographical spaces and contexts. As clinical observers witnessing medical care acts, they frequently identified with patients and with their personal knowledge from the patient role; while as members of a clinical team, they aligned with both provider and patient roles.

Dimensions of the ‘good doctor’ perceived by medical students who self-identify as patients

A. Vignette of a medical student with lived experience as a patient

This week we had a lecture about my disease. I felt complicated about the whole thing. The lecturer was a rheumatologist, and thankfully she seemed to get it. She didn’t just talk about the symptoms and the lab tests for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but she actually talked about how it affects people’s lives. It was good to hear, because that usually never even comes up in lectures. At the end of the presentation she had a guest come in, one of her patients, to talk about living with RA. It was weird seeing that person at the front of the room, who seemed so different from all my classmates in the audience. It could be me up there, I thought. I worried about what my classmates who knew my diagnosis might be thinking, as they were learning about symptoms and meds and side effects related to my condition. I wondered if they were looking at me, and wondered if they were asking how I’ll be able to handle clerkship if I get a bad flare. Honestly, I was worried about that myself too—like what if I get too sick, is this going to stop me from finishing med school? It’s weird though, I don’t really tell anyone about how much that stresses me out.

Then this morning we had our rheumatology clinical skills teaching in the hospital. We went to my small group preceptor’s clinic where he introduced us to one of his patients with lupus. She had agreed to be examined in front of all of us ‘for our learning’. The patient was young, around my age. My preceptor kept talking about her in the third person as if she wasn’t even in the room. I really noticed every time he did that, and kept looking to see the patient’s reaction. He went on about how ‘interesting’ the physical exam findings were, and the patient was starting to look uncomfortable, like she might even cry. I wanted to speak up to my preceptor or say something to the patient to make her feel more comfortable, but I felt stuck and didn’t say anything. We then took turns examining the patient, and I realised we hadn’t even had the chance to introduce ourselves to her first. My preceptor told us to come up close to look at the rash on her face and take her limbs and examine her joints. I watched my classmates examine her and sometimes it looked like they were interacting with an object, not a person. I kept thinking about how it would feel if that happened with my own rheumatologist, surrounded by all these med students examining me, hearing about how ‘interesting’ my findings were when I was the one who had to live with them every day. Thankfully, I don’t think my doctor would ever do that—she really takes extra time to make sure we talk about treatment decisions and next steps together. And I think because I’m in medical school she actually explains some of the concepts more in depth, which is nice. One of my friends in the group who knows my diagnosis gave me a look, almost as if she was saying, “are you doing ok?”. I think she could tell this wasn’t sitting well with me. When it was my turn to examine the patient I tried to make eye contact with her and smile and asked if I was hurting her. She smiled back and responded, “it’s a bit uncomfortable but not too painful, I’m used to it”.

At the end of the clinical skills session, as everyone was leaving the clinic room, I considered hanging back just to say something more to the patient in private. I thought about telling her that I have RA, that I have a rheumatologist too, and that I know what it’s like for her. I looked around as my classmates and preceptor filed out of the exam room—this is school, not my clinic. I decided not to tell the patient, and instead just smiled and kind of awkwardly introduced myself belatedly as I left the room. I didn’t want to overstep some sort of boundary, or suddenly put this burden on her by telling her my diagnosis. Plus, who knows if I really get what she’s going through? I just know that as a doctor I would never subject my patients to that kind of performance, where all they are is a prop.

B. Dimensions of the ‘good doctor’

Using critical discourse analysis, we identified three core dimensions of the ‘good doctor’ as perceived by medical learners who self-identified as patients. These consisted of (1) Communication and the doctor-patient relationship, (2) Empathy, humanism and attentiveness to quality of life, and (3) Maintaining boundaries with patients.

Dimension 1: Communication and the doctor-patient relationship

Participants emphasised the importance of building relationships and communicating effectively and clearly. Several participants contrasted this process with knowing answers to specific clinical questions, or having ‘checklist’ knowledge. One participant noted:

I think [doctors] could do a better job of asking the patient what it is that they want, what their expectations are, and really giving them that opportunity to ask questions, or to express what it is that they want. In some encounters, I felt the healthcare professional was just trying to get certain things on their list done.

Participants linked this dimension with shared decision-making and the doctor-patient relationship, exemplified through encounters with their clinical preceptors, their own doctors, and patients. Critically, when describing their own doctors’ communication techniques, participants often referred to the fact that their physicians acknowledged their role as a medical learner, which allowed their physicians to tailor communication to their knowledge base—a perceived positive component of the relationship.

Dimension 2: Empathy, humanism and attentiveness to quality of life

Participants highlighted the importance of understanding the impact of illness on a patient’s life course, identity, functioning and quality of life. They drew significantly from their patient perspective, and incorporated this into their perspectives as learners and future providers. They described a strong sense of shared experience with patients, with multiple participants expressing themes of ‘treating the patient as a person.’ Participants described the kind of physician they wished to become, based on their own patient experiences. This kind of physician treated patients with respect. Moreover, these physicians treated patients with the understanding that each medical encounter is catalytic and meaningful moment in the patient’s life. One participant noted, ‘Going forward in my training I’ll always, instead of treating each patient encounter as just a learning opportunity, it’s an opportunity to make a difference in somebody’s life, which I think not all medical students might be able to appreciate’. A number of participants discussed their own doctors as positive role models for this approach to patient care. However, they also detailed negative experiences in which they perceived a lack of empathy, either from their own physicians, peers or clinical supervisors. As one participant noted:

Med school is so good at giving us a sense of what diseases are, but nothing about what it’s like to live with them… It’s one thing to diagnose this disease, but what’s it like to live with it? When they leave the office, they’re going to go home, and what are they going to live like? So I think that having sensitivity to that, and being able to ask people, quite sincerely, how they’re going to manage, is something that I think that I think about a lot.

Drawing on their lived experiences as individuals living with chronic illness or disabilities, participants described actively resisting socialisation that undermined wholistic approaches to care.

Dimension 3: Maintaining boundaries with patients

Participants across all levels of training discussed the dimension of boundaries, specifically when they described themselves in their roles as learners providing care to patients. This dimension emphasised the importance of separating oneself from one’s patient in order to provide good care. Participants described the potential harms of overidentifying with patients, such as placing a burden on patients through self-disclosure, or assuming too much about the patient’s perceptions based on participants’ own experiences. As one participant noted, ‘Most of the time I feel like it would be taking something away from the patients to be like, ‘Oh well I have this too.’’. Participants described boundary-setting as an active and constant process of reflection about their clinical encounters, which they developed into a regular informal reflective practice:

I have seen some really sick people in hospital, and sometimes I go in thinking that I know exactly how to act, to make them feel listened to… But I actually don’t know, and in a way, having my own experiences gets in the way, because I sometimes put my own reactions too much into the patient’s shoes. So I’ve had to learn to step back a bit more.

In other words, while learners described identifying with patient circumstances as providing valuable insights for how to care for them with compassion, they also acknowledged that additional learning and practice was required on their part to manage the risks of overidentifying; this learning was largely absent in the formal curriculum.

The hidden curriculum of the ‘good doctor’

The experiences participants described revealed moments of alignment and moments of mismatch with formal or informal curricular teaching ( table 3 ). The curriculum reinforced specific dimensions of the ‘good doctor’, while de-emphasising, challenging or overlooking other dimensions. Situating participants as embodied hybrid learner-patient actors, we identified moments in which they suffered negative hidden curriculum effects, as well as moments of active resistance against these effects by behaving in ways that were not rewarded by existing professional or evaluation standards. We also observed instances when a positive hidden curriculum (practices that aligned with professed curriculum goals for good care) empowered learners to imagine themselves becoming compassionate and effective physicians.

Areas of alignment and mismatch with participant perceptions of the ‘good doctor’ in the formal and hidden curriculum

The dimension of communication and the doctor-patient relationship demonstrated the greatest alignment between participant perceptions and curricular teaching. This dimension was present and valued in the formal curriculum via clinical evaluations (presence of ‘communication’ categories on evaluation forms), and in the hidden curriculum via informal feedback from preceptors. However, while communication skills appeared in official evaluations, participants frequently believed ‘checklist’ knowledge was a higher priority for evaluators. Moreover, they occasionally perceived the forms of ‘communication’ evaluated in the curriculum were insincere, based on the constraints of the clinical learning environment:

[I’m working on] being more in tune with what the patient’s hopes and expectations are, and what their concerns are because we’re trained to ask them, but sometimes it’s just a little bit insincere. The environment is not made in such a way that the patient really feels comfortable sharing that what they really want is this.

The dimension of empathy, humanism and attentiveness to quality of life was more complex. Critically, many participants perceived that teaching about empathy was indeed present in the curriculum, but noted that coverage was often superficial, and was not integrated into their daily educational experiences in a meaningful way. Participants described it as content that was frequently left aside in favour of learning ‘facts’. Regarding the hidden curriculum, participants described multiple encounters in which they perceived preceptors or peers demonstrating a lack of empathy toward patients and thus behaving in a manner that was opposite to what was being taught as important in the formal curriculum. As one participant related:

I’ve had preceptors who, not knowing [my diagnosis], would just be super dismissive of patient concerns in general, which is really, really disempowering. They would say, ‘oh, this patient says that they’re stressed about their illness? They should see my life, then they’d know what stress is!’

Such encounters constituted identity challenges for participants as they had to reconcile their reactions as both patients and learners to these comments, and construct socially acceptable responses, which at times did not validate their lived experience of illness or disability. Participants described having different approaches towards patients than their peers, and many attributed their own empathy to personal experience. One participant’s comments were consistent with negative socialisation effects. These effects illustrate how the learning environment may shift subjects’ beliefs in opposition to their expressed values. In this case, the participant repeatedly referred to empathy and wholistic healthcare as ‘clichés’. In doing so, they were indicating these were obvious characteristics of the ‘good doctor’, yet were not explicitly valued in the practised curriculum:

I think it’s really important that medical students in general are properly educated about how to — I hate to be again so cliché — but how to wholistically care for somebody. I don’t know what the best way to do that is, but I just feel because there’s so much information to learn during medical school and beyond, the emphasis is on just learning all the facts, but we don’t spend enough time really focusing on the more human parts of it.

Above, the participant expressed their hope for more formal training in how to ‘wholistically care’ for somebody. Yet by labelling this expectation as a cliché, they also embodied a typical form of performativity—a performance of expected attitudes about wholistic care—to the dominant culture.

Participants observed that the majority of didactic lectures did not address impact of illness on function or quality of life. Within clinical teaching settings, they described that clinical skills classes included asking about function and quality of life; however, participants perceived these as undervalued by peers and preceptors, and they were not typically present in evaluations or feedback. Notably, participants described continuing to prioritise impact of illness on function in their assessments despite this de-emphasis, demonstrating significant agency and conscious resistance among participants from the early stages of their medical training.

Finally, the dimension of maintaining boundaries with patients, and the necessary reflective skills required to do so, were absent from formal teaching. However, some participants described occasions where preceptors provided informal feedback about self-disclosure to patients. Notably, this teaching varied greatly across preceptors, with some teachers encouraging self-disclosure in appropriate and measured contexts, and others discouraging self-disclosure entirely. In the absence of formal or informal teaching, participants described facing unanticipated clinical scenarios in which they learnt to reflect on the role of self-disclosure. In these catalytic moments, participants learnt to develop an approach which they then applied to future clinical encounters:

I think about intent a lot. What would have been my intention, if I had disclosed to [my patient]? It would have been to have some sort of connection, to feel like, ‘Look, me too.’ But he didn’t need that, he just needed to know his information, and move on. His health was stable, he just wanted to know what a result meant. I think that [disclosing] would have been actually quite selfish of me, to force my own diagnosis onto him, in that case.

As the above account shows, participants were worried that reinforcing intersubjectivity with patients during clinical care may not always result in a better experience for the patient.

The ‘able doctor’ and the ‘doctor with lived experience’ discourse

We identified two operating discourses of the ‘good doctor’ in medical school: the ‘able doctor’, and the ‘doctor with lived experience’ ( table 4 ). These discourses existed in tension with each another, highlighting a divergence between institutional expectations and personal experiences of illness and disability.

Operating discourses of the ‘able doctor’ and the ‘doctor with lived experience’

The ‘able doctor’ discourse reflected dominant attitudes in medical culture about the abilities required to practise medicine, and the appropriateness of including practitioners with illnesses or disabilities. We identified this discourse in discussions about social expectations, external evaluations and future career choices for participants. For example, participants described their peers’ and supervisors’ assumptions that all medical learners are ‘young and healthy’. They also observed that their lived patient experience was largely made invisible by what they perceived as the dominant culture of medicine. They experienced difficulty discussing their conditions to peers and teachers, even when their illness experiences afforded them insights into the material they were studying. Participants witnessed the underlying ableism of medical training and faced implicit assumptions from peers, supervisors and administrators about the types of abilities physicians must possess to practise medicine, such as working overnight shifts or performing in physically demanding settings. These attitudes sometimes influenced participants’ decisions to disclose information about their conditions to peers and teachers. They described trying to resist the institutionalised ableist discourse by drawing on their knowledge as patients as a private source of strength and expertise. However, in several cases, participants expressed concerns about their ability to practise medicine with a chronic illness or disability in the future. For example, as one participant remarked:

To be honest, I think because of my condition I’ve never really considered surgery as a career option, just because, I mean, one of the symptoms of going low [blood sugar] is having your hands shake, and obviously you can’t have your hands shake. And so you would need to have really perfect control of your condition in order to be able to explore that career path.

In these scenarios, participants located disability in the individual (medical model of disability), rather than in environmental barriers (social model of disability) ( Reaume 2014 ). As such, they did not consider the potential accommodations that could be designed to remove these barriers and allow them to participate.

In contrast to the ‘able doctor’ discourse, which highlighted personal limitations, the ‘doctor with lived experience’ discourse reflected participants’ perceptions of their strengths in their dual roles as patients and learners. We identified this discourse in participants’ descriptions of their future career aspirations. Multiple participants highlighted how their patient experiences had illustrated the importance of advocacy, and of treating the patient as person. Participants also highlighted the need to self-manage and regulate their own health in order to practise medicine. They described actively collaborating with their healthcare providers, school administrators and teachers to achieve their goals, which in turn allowed them to participate in their medical curriculum. As one participant described:

I guess you have to really know your condition and you have to figure out if you’re fit to see a patient that day and never hesitate to contact anyone who might be able to help you. In my case I contacted the [student affairs office] and I told my preceptor or supervisor that day that I was not fit to see any patients. You really have to know yourself.

The discourse of the ‘doctor with lived experience’ became an emancipatory discourse in which participants experienced their dual roles as patients and learners as in fact complementary, rather than conflicting. However, participants noted the curriculum did not formally acknowledge or validate the value of their patient experiences. While administrators involved in student health recognised the space of the ‘doctor with lived experience’, many peers, teachers and administrators remained unaware.

Medical students with lived experience as patients hold unique and largely unstudied perspectives on what makes a ‘good doctor’. These learners approach their training as both insiders and outsiders to the profession, given their roles as patients and future physicians. This study aimed to shed light on their perspectives, and to better understand how the formal and hidden curricula may serve to reinforce or challenge these learners’ perceptions of the ideal physician. Our analysis revealed an underlying ableist discourse in medicine, which participants either internalised, performed as a way to fit in, or explicitly challenged to form a new space of possibility for the ‘doctor with lived experience’ of illness or disability. In our study, individuals who identified as both patients and medical learners described multiple dimensions of the ‘good doctor’, including communication, empathy, attentiveness to quality of life, and reflective practice to maintain boundaries between self and patient. They observed multiple instances in which their own understandings of the ‘good doctor’ were either absent from formal teaching, or de-emphasised through informal and tacit influences. In turn, they developed strategies for navigating and resisting hidden curriculum effects by compartmentalising some of their knowledge or withholding their personal patient experiences. As previous work has shown, this compartmentalisation can serve to reproduce the socialised distinction in medical culture between doctor and patient, and ultimately risks erasing the valuable expertise held by provider-patients ( Stergiopoulos, Fernando, and Martimianakis 2018 ).

Our results contribute to existing research on ‘the good doctor’, and reflect a North American context of medical culture and training. Prior work on medical student perceptions of the ‘good doctor’ suggests that learners globally value a combination of communication and competence ( Cuesta-Briand et al . 2014 ; Maudsley, Williams, and Taylor 2007 ; Steiner-Hofbauer, Schrank, and Holzinger 2018 ). The present study demonstrates that learners with lived experience of illness or disability hold similar yet unique perspectives on the good doctor. In particular, participants emphasised empathic and humanistic care, attentiveness to patients’ quality of life, and reflective practice to maintain patient-physician boundaries. From the earliest stages of their training, these learners developed nuanced and advanced reflective practice techniques which were absent from the curriculum at their educational stage. This finding echoes Battalova et al . (2020) and their theory of epistemic connection , where they found that disabled healthcare learners and providers used their shared experience with patients to build authenticity, rapport and understanding, while also balancing this with the need to maintain the focus on patients. Participants in our study also described individual-level and systems-level advocacy as essential to physicians’ roles, a perspective which prior studies of medical student perspectives noted to be absent ( Maudsley, Williams, and Taylor 2007 ). Similar to previous work on the hidden curriculum of the ‘good doctor’, learners in our study faced a ‘hierarchy of curricular value’, in which teaching on humanism and professionalism was considered undervalued and supplementary compared with ‘core’ biomedical knowledge ( Craig, Scott, and Blackwood 2018 ; MacLeod 2011 ). Bennett et al ’s sociocultural study of the ‘good doctor’ in medical education highlighted the underlying tension between calls for greater learner diversity and medical education’s underlying goal to generate ‘uniform good doctors’ ( Bennett et al. 2017 ). In an educational environment that continues to claim diversity as valuable, the present study demonstrates a similar tension between calls for diversity and existing ableist institutional discourses of the ‘good (able) doctor’. At the level of theory, our study demonstrates how the concepts of intersubjectivity and dispersion of the self can be used to analyse interactions between medical learners, patients, peers and supervisors, all of whom hold multiple identities and roles.

While to our knowledge, no other research has studied perceptions of the ‘good doctor’ among medical learners with lived experience as patients, narrative accounts by practitioner-patients reveal similar themes of empathic connection with patients balanced with boundary-setting and self-reflection ( Elmore 2011 ). In an editorial describing her experiences as a patient with cancer and medical student, Elmore described her concept of the good doctor, noting that ‘[s]ome measure of detachment is a prerequisite for being a competent physician, and the emotional side of care is not emphasized [in medical education]. You can't function if you are too enmeshed with the experience of a patient’ ( Elmore 2011 ).

The discourse of the ‘able doctor’ points to ongoing challenges in the culture of medicine, where physicians and learners with disabilities (including chronic illnesses, mental health conditions, learning, sensory and mobility disabilities) remain under-represented and experience discrimination and stigma ( Bulk et al . 2017 ; Meeks, Herzer, and Jain 2018 ; Meeks, Herzer, and Jain 2018 ; Meeks et al . 2019 ; Zazove et al . 2016 ). Ableist discourses in medicine serve to shut down creative solutions that could otherwise provide accommodations to learners by removing structural barriers ( Meeks et al . 2019 ; Meeks, Herzer, and Jain 2018 ). The discourse of the ‘doctor with lived experience’ served as a counterpoint to the prevailing ableist discourse in medical practice, and provides an important space of possibility for reframing dual physician-patient experiences as a form of expertise rather than a source of stigma ( Thomas 2022 ). Zazove et al . (2016) , Moreland et al. (2013) , Meeks, Herzer, and Jain (2018) and Battalova et al. (2020) have illustrated the many benefits that doctors with disabilities bring to the profession, including greater patient comfort and rapport when seeing a doctor with a disability, and increased opportunities to educate professional peers and community members about living with a disability. In our study we also found the ‘doctor with lived experience’ discourse continued to emphasise participants’ individual responsibility, where participants perceived a need to self-manage their health in order to practise in the profession. In other words, they focused on personally overcoming barriers, rather than imagining a system where these barriers could be removed. The discourse of self-management also appeared in the dimension of professional boundary-setting with patients. While the development of this reflective practice can be seen as positive, learners were largely unsupported in developing strategies for drawing on their lived experience when caring for patients. Indeed, most participants described socialising experiences that made them wary of disclosing their condition to patients. This reflects a medical education environment where learners are expected to self-regulate rather than share the multifaceted aspects of their identities (including disability) with their peers and supervisors as they navigate challenging clinical encounters. This in turn demonstrates the pervasive ableism that continues to underlie medical culture. Indeed, our findings suggest that the ‘able doctor’ discourse contributes to objectification of the illness experience, thus impacting the socialisation of all students. Questions remain over whether the benefits of identifying with patients can be achieved with all medical students by modifying formal curricular opportunities, such as providing longitudinal exposure to patients in early training ( Mylopoulos et al . 2020 ).

This work may also extend to postgraduate trainees and practising physicians. While existing discourses of ableism in medicine have received new attention in the literature, the interaction between these themes and new rapidly proliferating discourses of wellness and physician health warrants further investigation ( Stergiopoulos, Hodges, and Martimianakis 2020 ). In particular, wellness discourses frequently download responsibility onto individual learners and physicians, rather than accounting for the structural barriers that lead to poor heath or lack of access ( Stergiopoulos, Fragoso, and Meeks 2021 ; Stergiopoulos, Hodges, and Martimianakis 2020 ). Finally, given the early and advanced emphasis that learners in our study placed on setting boundaries between self and patient using reflective practice—which is increasingly being considered an essential physician competency—this work provides a starting point for further research and curriculum development that acknowledges and channels learners’ lived experience to foster reflective competence early in training ( Mann, Gordon, and MacLeod 2009 ).

Limitations include the fact that our study was restricted to a focus on illness and disability as an identity category. Our sample was not large enough to examine roles of other identity markers including race, socioeconomic status, gender and sexual orientation, and their intersections in creating unique notions of the ‘good doctor’. Moreover, while participants were spread across all levels of training, the majority of learners had not experienced clerkship, a formative experience in clinical training and professional identity construction. Mitigating this limitation, all preclerkship participants in our study had experienced significant clinical exposure via one or more years of regular interviewing and clinical observation on a weekly basis. Moreover, we acknowledge that the elements of the formal and hidden curriculum perceived by participants were shaped by the North American context of the study and may not be present in other cultural settings. Indeed, while research on medical student perspectives of the ‘good doctor’ synthesises international data, it does not break down the regional variations in these perspectives.

Ultimately, how we define the ‘good doctor’ depends on who we ask. Understanding these definitions at an institutional level is critical because they directly influence processes of student selection, training, evaluation and licensure. Medical learners with lived experience as patients hold unique insights from both sides of the clinical encounter, and possess valuable hybrid expertise. Learning from these students’ perspectives has the potential to inform strategies for creating a more equitable, reflective physician workforce by guiding policy around admissions, accommodations and curricular content. Ultimately, these efforts serve to build a physician workforce that better represents the population it serves.

Ethics statements

Patient consent for publication.

Not applicable.

Ethics approval

This study involves human participants and was approved by the University of Toronto Social Sciences, Humanities, and Education Research Ethics Board (Protocol #32913). Participants gave informed consent to participate in the study before taking part.


The authors thank Dr Oshan Fernando who conducted all participant interviews in this study.


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Contributors All authors contributed to the conception, design, analysis, and writing of the study in this manuscript. E.S. is the guarantor and accepts full responsibility for the work and/or the conduct of the study, had access to the data, and controlled the decision to publish.

Funding This study was funded by the 2016 AMS/OMSA Medical Student Education Research Grant in Compassionate Care (Provider Wellness) and 2016 MAA CREMS Research Award in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Competing interests None declared.

Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research. Refer to the Methods section for further details.

Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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Healing with Heart: Essay About My Plans to Becoming a Doctor

Becoming a doctor has been my lifelong dream. Since childhood, I have been fascinated by the medical field and inspired by stories of doctors saving lives and helping people in need. As I have grown up, my passion for medicine has only increased. Helping others is an integral part of who I am, and becoming a doctor would enable me to do just that on a daily basis. Here are the reasons why becoming a doctor is my ultimate goal and why I am writing this essay published on custom essay paper writing service Edusson.

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My Desire to Help Others 

Every day, there are countless opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives – from donating money to local charities, volunteering at homeless shelters, or simply offering words of encouragement when someone is feeling down. To me, it’s more than just an opportunity; it’s an obligation. 

When I become a doctor, I will be able to take that sense of responsibility even further by being at the forefront of healthcare and providing direct help to those in need. It’s not just about treating patients; it’s about truly understanding what they are going through and offering comfort as well as physical healing. 

My Love for Medicine 

My interest in medicine goes beyond my desire to help others; I also genuinely enjoy learning about the human body and its various functions. In high school, biology was one of my favorite subjects because it opened up so many intriguing possibilities for exploration. Now that I am studying pre-med courses in college, my fascination with medicine continues to grow as I learn more about how the body works on both microscopic and macroscopic levels. From anatomy and physiology to biochemistry and pharmacology, each course provides a fascinating insight into the world of medicine that reinforces my passion for this field. 

What Skills a Good Doctor Should Have

I think it’s important to have good communication skills, especially when it comes to dealing with patients. The patients need someone who is able to understand their needs and feelings and then explain to them clearly what they should do next. 

The most important part of being a doctor is also patience because you need to be patient with your patients if they don’t understand something or if they are having trouble with something simple like taking their medication correctly or following your instructions on how to take care of themselves better.

What Role a Doctor Plays in Society

Furthermore, doctors are very important people who save lives every day around the world – they help us live longer and healthier lives! When we go to see our doctors, we trust that they know exactly what is wrong with us or how we can get better again. This trust comes from knowing that doctors are highly educated professionals who study hard for many years before becoming certified as physicians!

The Challenges Ahead 

Nevertheless, becoming a doctor involves many years of hard work – including undergraduate studies, medical school applications, licensing exams, residency programs, and internships. Each step presents unique challenges but also incredible rewards, such as gaining knowledge that can be applied directly into practice or building relationships with patients that can last a lifetime. With each challenge comes growth both personally and professionally, which makes me even more eager to pursue this path despite its complexity.  

I want to be a doctor because it offers me the opportunity to make an impact on people’s lives while doing something meaningful with my life — something that will give me personal fulfillment now and for years down the road. It requires hard work but comes with a tremendous reward, and ultimately fulfills my dream of helping others through medicine. For these reasons, becoming a doctor remains my ultimate goal in life!

Becoming a doctor is a lifelong aspiration for many people, and the reasons why someone might choose to pursue a career in medicine are as varied as they are compelling. In the following table, we’ve outlined some of the most common reasons why individuals might want to become a doctor, along with a brief description of each reason.

Note: The reasons listed in the table are not exhaustive, and there are certainly other factors that might motivate someone to become a doctor. These are simply some of the most common and compelling reasons.

Crafting an Essay on Why You Want to Be a Doctor – Tips and Tricks 

Are you looking for tips on writing an essay on why you want to become a doctor? Writing personal statement format essays can be a daunting task, but with the right advice, it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips that will provide you with all the information you need to write an effective and compelling essay. Read on to learn more. 

Understand Your Audience 

Before you even begin writing, it’s important to understand who your audience is. Understanding its perspective will help shape the content of your essay. 

Write From Personal Experience 

Your essay should be written from personal experience and not from research or facts that you have gathered from other sources. It should focus on why you personally want to become a doctor and how this profession will enable you to make positive changes in the world or in people’s lives. Using real-life examples of experiences that have shaped your interest in medicine can help make your essay more powerful and memorable. 

Add Specific Details That Showcase Your Understanding of Medicine 

In order to make sure that your essay stands out from the rest, it is important to include specific details related to medicine that show off your knowledge of the field. These details can help demonstrate that you understand what is required of someone who wishes to pursue a career in this field, and why it appeals so strongly to you as an individual.

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Doctor Essay

It's no secret that doctors are some of the most important people in the world. They play a vital role in keeping us healthy and providing us with the medical care we need when we're sick or injured. While it may seem like an obvious statement, it's still worth noting that doctors are incredibly important to the health of everyone in our society. Here are some sample essays on doctors

100 Words Essay On Doctor

200 words essay on doctor, 500 words essay on doctor.

Doctor Essay

Doctors also have a huge impact on medical research and development. They are constantly looking for new ways to improve treatments and find cures for diseases. They are the ones who are pushing boundaries and making progress in the medical field. Their hard work and dedication is what makes the world a healthier and better place.

Doctors are dedicated to the safety and health of their patients and are willing to go to great lengths to ensure they get the best possible care. From making difficult diagnoses to providing life-saving treatments, doctors have a profound and lasting impact on their patients and their families.

Doctors are truly some of the most remarkable people in the world, and they deserve our utmost respect and admiration. They are people of integrity, who strive to provide compassionate, ethical care. They devote their lives to saving and improving the lives of others. They are highly-trained professionals who are able to diagnose and treat even the most complex of medical issues.

Why Do We Need Doctors?

For school students in particular, doctors are especially important. After all, school-age children are still growing and developing, so it's essential that they have access to quality healthcare. From regular checkups to vaccinations to diagnosing and treating illnesses, doctors provide vital services for young people.

At the same time, doctors are more than just medical providers – they are also mentors, teachers and even friends. From teaching children about nutrition and hygiene to guiding them through difficult life decisions, doctors can be a source of comfort and advice. By showing students the importance of education, hard work, and helping others, doctors can help to shape the next generation of leaders and influencers. By taking the time to listen, explain and educate, doctors can help to inspire the next generation to make a positive difference in the world.

In modern times, doctors are an increasingly important part of society due to the advances made in medical science and the prevalence of chronic diseases. Doctors are now expected to be more than just diagnosticians and treatment providers; they are expected to be compassionate, knowledgeable, and ethical professionals. Becoming a doctor is a noble profession that requires dedication, hard work, and a passion for helping people.

Role of Doctors

Doctors are the ones who diagnose, treat, and prevent illness and disease. But their role goes beyond just healing the sick; they also help people to lead healthier lives. They provide advice on diet and exercise, and they encourage their patients to maintain good mental and physical health. Doctors are also instrumental in conducting research and advancing medical knowledge.

Doctors constantly strive to find new treatments and cures for diseases, and they are the ones who bring these new discoveries to the public. Without doctors, our lives would be vastly different. They provide us with the medical care we need, and they also offer us guidance and support along the way. We owe them gratitude for all that they do, and that is why we must always strive to recognize and appreciate the work that doctors do.

How To Be A Doctor

Doctors specialise in various fields to treat and cure various types of health problems. Medical science is a vast field that requires years of education and rigorous training to enter. When a doctor enters the profession, he or she takes an oath to maintain their integrity and not engage in any type of misbehaviour or illegal activity with their patients or the society as a whole.

In order to become a doctor, the first step is to complete a 5 year MBBS program at an accredited medical school. During the program, students will take a variety of classes, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, medical ethics, and medical law. They will also be expected to participate in hands-on clinical experiences in order to gain an understanding of the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.

Qualities of A Doctor

To be a successful doctor, one must have a strong interest in science and a strong knowledge of medical practices and procedures. Doctors must also possess strong communication skills, good judgement and problem-solving abilities. It is also important to have the capacity to work in teams and multi-disciplinary environments.

Being a doctor is a great responsibility and requires a commitment to helping others. Doctors have a unique set of skills that are necessary to diagnose and treat medical conditions. They must also be able to communicate effectively with their patients and their families. Doctors must also possess strong interpersonal skills and be able to work in teams.

In order to become a doctor, it requires dedication, hard work and a passion for helping people. Ultimately, doctors are some of the most important people in our society and in the lives of school students in particular. From providing medical care to guiding children and teaching them important life lessons, doctors are invaluable to the health and well-being of everyone in our society.

Explore Career Options (By Industry)

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Data Administrator

Database professionals use software to store and organise data such as financial information, and customer shipping records. Individuals who opt for a career as data administrators ensure that data is available for users and secured from unauthorised sales. DB administrators may work in various types of industries. It may involve computer systems design, service firms, insurance companies, banks and hospitals.

Bio Medical Engineer

The field of biomedical engineering opens up a universe of expert chances. An Individual in the biomedical engineering career path work in the field of engineering as well as medicine, in order to find out solutions to common problems of the two fields. The biomedical engineering job opportunities are to collaborate with doctors and researchers to develop medical systems, equipment, or devices that can solve clinical problems. Here we will be discussing jobs after biomedical engineering, how to get a job in biomedical engineering, biomedical engineering scope, and salary. 

Ethical Hacker

A career as ethical hacker involves various challenges and provides lucrative opportunities in the digital era where every giant business and startup owns its cyberspace on the world wide web. Individuals in the ethical hacker career path try to find the vulnerabilities in the cyber system to get its authority. If he or she succeeds in it then he or she gets its illegal authority. Individuals in the ethical hacker career path then steal information or delete the file that could affect the business, functioning, or services of the organization.

GIS officer work on various GIS software to conduct a study and gather spatial and non-spatial information. GIS experts update the GIS data and maintain it. The databases include aerial or satellite imagery, latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates, and manually digitized images of maps. In a career as GIS expert, one is responsible for creating online and mobile maps.

Data Analyst

The invention of the database has given fresh breath to the people involved in the data analytics career path. Analysis refers to splitting up a whole into its individual components for individual analysis. Data analysis is a method through which raw data are processed and transformed into information that would be beneficial for user strategic thinking.

Data are collected and examined to respond to questions, evaluate hypotheses or contradict theories. It is a tool for analyzing, transforming, modeling, and arranging data with useful knowledge, to assist in decision-making and methods, encompassing various strategies, and is used in different fields of business, research, and social science.

Geothermal Engineer

Individuals who opt for a career as geothermal engineers are the professionals involved in the processing of geothermal energy. The responsibilities of geothermal engineers may vary depending on the workplace location. Those who work in fields design facilities to process and distribute geothermal energy. They oversee the functioning of machinery used in the field.

Database Architect

If you are intrigued by the programming world and are interested in developing communications networks then a career as database architect may be a good option for you. Data architect roles and responsibilities include building design models for data communication networks. Wide Area Networks (WANs), local area networks (LANs), and intranets are included in the database networks. It is expected that database architects will have in-depth knowledge of a company's business to develop a network to fulfil the requirements of the organisation. Stay tuned as we look at the larger picture and give you more information on what is db architecture, why you should pursue database architecture, what to expect from such a degree and what your job opportunities will be after graduation. Here, we will be discussing how to become a data architect. Students can visit NIT Trichy , IIT Kharagpur , JMI New Delhi . 

Remote Sensing Technician

Individuals who opt for a career as a remote sensing technician possess unique personalities. Remote sensing analysts seem to be rational human beings, they are strong, independent, persistent, sincere, realistic and resourceful. Some of them are analytical as well, which means they are intelligent, introspective and inquisitive. 

Remote sensing scientists use remote sensing technology to support scientists in fields such as community planning, flight planning or the management of natural resources. Analysing data collected from aircraft, satellites or ground-based platforms using statistical analysis software, image analysis software or Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a significant part of their work. Do you want to learn how to become remote sensing technician? There's no need to be concerned; we've devised a simple remote sensing technician career path for you. Scroll through the pages and read.

Budget Analyst

Budget analysis, in a nutshell, entails thoroughly analyzing the details of a financial budget. The budget analysis aims to better understand and manage revenue. Budget analysts assist in the achievement of financial targets, the preservation of profitability, and the pursuit of long-term growth for a business. Budget analysts generally have a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, economics, or a closely related field. Knowledge of Financial Management is of prime importance in this career.


An underwriter is a person who assesses and evaluates the risk of insurance in his or her field like mortgage, loan, health policy, investment, and so on and so forth. The underwriter career path does involve risks as analysing the risks means finding out if there is a way for the insurance underwriter jobs to recover the money from its clients. If the risk turns out to be too much for the company then in the future it is an underwriter who will be held accountable for it. Therefore, one must carry out his or her job with a lot of attention and diligence.

Finance Executive

Product manager.

A Product Manager is a professional responsible for product planning and marketing. He or she manages the product throughout the Product Life Cycle, gathering and prioritising the product. A product manager job description includes defining the product vision and working closely with team members of other departments to deliver winning products.  

Operations Manager

Individuals in the operations manager jobs are responsible for ensuring the efficiency of each department to acquire its optimal goal. They plan the use of resources and distribution of materials. The operations manager's job description includes managing budgets, negotiating contracts, and performing administrative tasks.

Stock Analyst

Individuals who opt for a career as a stock analyst examine the company's investments makes decisions and keep track of financial securities. The nature of such investments will differ from one business to the next. Individuals in the stock analyst career use data mining to forecast a company's profits and revenues, advise clients on whether to buy or sell, participate in seminars, and discussing financial matters with executives and evaluate annual reports.

A Researcher is a professional who is responsible for collecting data and information by reviewing the literature and conducting experiments and surveys. He or she uses various methodological processes to provide accurate data and information that is utilised by academicians and other industry professionals. Here, we will discuss what is a researcher, the researcher's salary, types of researchers.

Welding Engineer

Welding Engineer Job Description: A Welding Engineer work involves managing welding projects and supervising welding teams. He or she is responsible for reviewing welding procedures, processes and documentation. A career as Welding Engineer involves conducting failure analyses and causes on welding issues. 

Transportation Planner

A career as Transportation Planner requires technical application of science and technology in engineering, particularly the concepts, equipment and technologies involved in the production of products and services. In fields like land use, infrastructure review, ecological standards and street design, he or she considers issues of health, environment and performance. A Transportation Planner assigns resources for implementing and designing programmes. He or she is responsible for assessing needs, preparing plans and forecasts and compliance with regulations.

Environmental Engineer

Individuals who opt for a career as an environmental engineer are construction professionals who utilise the skills and knowledge of biology, soil science, chemistry and the concept of engineering to design and develop projects that serve as solutions to various environmental problems. 

Safety Manager

A Safety Manager is a professional responsible for employee’s safety at work. He or she plans, implements and oversees the company’s employee safety. A Safety Manager ensures compliance and adherence to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) guidelines.

Conservation Architect

A Conservation Architect is a professional responsible for conserving and restoring buildings or monuments having a historic value. He or she applies techniques to document and stabilise the object’s state without any further damage. A Conservation Architect restores the monuments and heritage buildings to bring them back to their original state.

Structural Engineer

A Structural Engineer designs buildings, bridges, and other related structures. He or she analyzes the structures and makes sure the structures are strong enough to be used by the people. A career as a Structural Engineer requires working in the construction process. It comes under the civil engineering discipline. A Structure Engineer creates structural models with the help of computer-aided design software. 

Highway Engineer

Highway Engineer Job Description:  A Highway Engineer is a civil engineer who specialises in planning and building thousands of miles of roads that support connectivity and allow transportation across the country. He or she ensures that traffic management schemes are effectively planned concerning economic sustainability and successful implementation.

Field Surveyor

Are you searching for a Field Surveyor Job Description? A Field Surveyor is a professional responsible for conducting field surveys for various places or geographical conditions. He or she collects the required data and information as per the instructions given by senior officials. 

Orthotist and Prosthetist

Orthotists and Prosthetists are professionals who provide aid to patients with disabilities. They fix them to artificial limbs (prosthetics) and help them to regain stability. There are times when people lose their limbs in an accident. In some other occasions, they are born without a limb or orthopaedic impairment. Orthotists and prosthetists play a crucial role in their lives with fixing them to assistive devices and provide mobility.


A career in pathology in India is filled with several responsibilities as it is a medical branch and affects human lives. The demand for pathologists has been increasing over the past few years as people are getting more aware of different diseases. Not only that, but an increase in population and lifestyle changes have also contributed to the increase in a pathologist’s demand. The pathology careers provide an extremely huge number of opportunities and if you want to be a part of the medical field you can consider being a pathologist. If you want to know more about a career in pathology in India then continue reading this article.

Veterinary Doctor

Speech therapist, gynaecologist.

Gynaecology can be defined as the study of the female body. The job outlook for gynaecology is excellent since there is evergreen demand for one because of their responsibility of dealing with not only women’s health but also fertility and pregnancy issues. Although most women prefer to have a women obstetrician gynaecologist as their doctor, men also explore a career as a gynaecologist and there are ample amounts of male doctors in the field who are gynaecologists and aid women during delivery and childbirth. 


The audiologist career involves audiology professionals who are responsible to treat hearing loss and proactively preventing the relevant damage. Individuals who opt for a career as an audiologist use various testing strategies with the aim to determine if someone has a normal sensitivity to sounds or not. After the identification of hearing loss, a hearing doctor is required to determine which sections of the hearing are affected, to what extent they are affected, and where the wound causing the hearing loss is found. As soon as the hearing loss is identified, the patients are provided with recommendations for interventions and rehabilitation such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, and appropriate medical referrals. While audiology is a branch of science that studies and researches hearing, balance, and related disorders.

An oncologist is a specialised doctor responsible for providing medical care to patients diagnosed with cancer. He or she uses several therapies to control the cancer and its effect on the human body such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy and biopsy. An oncologist designs a treatment plan based on a pathology report after diagnosing the type of cancer and where it is spreading inside the body.

Are you searching for an ‘Anatomist job description’? An Anatomist is a research professional who applies the laws of biological science to determine the ability of bodies of various living organisms including animals and humans to regenerate the damaged or destroyed organs. If you want to know what does an anatomist do, then read the entire article, where we will answer all your questions.

For an individual who opts for a career as an actor, the primary responsibility is to completely speak to the character he or she is playing and to persuade the crowd that the character is genuine by connecting with them and bringing them into the story. This applies to significant roles and littler parts, as all roles join to make an effective creation. Here in this article, we will discuss how to become an actor in India, actor exams, actor salary in India, and actor jobs. 

Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats create and direct original routines for themselves, in addition to developing interpretations of existing routines. The work of circus acrobats can be seen in a variety of performance settings, including circus, reality shows, sports events like the Olympics, movies and commercials. Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats must be prepared to face rejections and intermittent periods of work. The creativity of acrobats may extend to other aspects of the performance. For example, acrobats in the circus may work with gym trainers, celebrities or collaborate with other professionals to enhance such performance elements as costume and or maybe at the teaching end of the career.

Video Game Designer

Career as a video game designer is filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. A video game designer is someone who is involved in the process of creating a game from day one. He or she is responsible for fulfilling duties like designing the character of the game, the several levels involved, plot, art and similar other elements. Individuals who opt for a career as a video game designer may also write the codes for the game using different programming languages.

Depending on the video game designer job description and experience they may also have to lead a team and do the early testing of the game in order to suggest changes and find loopholes.

Radio Jockey

Radio Jockey is an exciting, promising career and a great challenge for music lovers. If you are really interested in a career as radio jockey, then it is very important for an RJ to have an automatic, fun, and friendly personality. If you want to get a job done in this field, a strong command of the language and a good voice are always good things. Apart from this, in order to be a good radio jockey, you will also listen to good radio jockeys so that you can understand their style and later make your own by practicing.

A career as radio jockey has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. If you want to know more about a career as radio jockey, and how to become a radio jockey then continue reading the article.


The word “choreography" actually comes from Greek words that mean “dance writing." Individuals who opt for a career as a choreographer create and direct original dances, in addition to developing interpretations of existing dances. A Choreographer dances and utilises his or her creativity in other aspects of dance performance. For example, he or she may work with the music director to select music or collaborate with other famous choreographers to enhance such performance elements as lighting, costume and set design.

Social Media Manager

A career as social media manager involves implementing the company’s or brand’s marketing plan across all social media channels. Social media managers help in building or improving a brand’s or a company’s website traffic, build brand awareness, create and implement marketing and brand strategy. Social media managers are key to important social communication as well.


Photography is considered both a science and an art, an artistic means of expression in which the camera replaces the pen. In a career as a photographer, an individual is hired to capture the moments of public and private events, such as press conferences or weddings, or may also work inside a studio, where people go to get their picture clicked. Photography is divided into many streams each generating numerous career opportunities in photography. With the boom in advertising, media, and the fashion industry, photography has emerged as a lucrative and thrilling career option for many Indian youths.

An individual who is pursuing a career as a producer is responsible for managing the business aspects of production. They are involved in each aspect of production from its inception to deception. Famous movie producers review the script, recommend changes and visualise the story. 

They are responsible for overseeing the finance involved in the project and distributing the film for broadcasting on various platforms. A career as a producer is quite fulfilling as well as exhaustive in terms of playing different roles in order for a production to be successful. Famous movie producers are responsible for hiring creative and technical personnel on contract basis.

Copy Writer

In a career as a copywriter, one has to consult with the client and understand the brief well. A career as a copywriter has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. Several new mediums of advertising are opening therefore making it a lucrative career choice. Students can pursue various copywriter courses such as Journalism , Advertising , Marketing Management . Here, we have discussed how to become a freelance copywriter, copywriter career path, how to become a copywriter in India, and copywriting career outlook. 

In a career as a vlogger, one generally works for himself or herself. However, once an individual has gained viewership there are several brands and companies that approach them for paid collaboration. It is one of those fields where an individual can earn well while following his or her passion. 

Ever since internet costs got reduced the viewership for these types of content has increased on a large scale. Therefore, a career as a vlogger has a lot to offer. If you want to know more about the Vlogger eligibility, roles and responsibilities then continue reading the article. 

For publishing books, newspapers, magazines and digital material, editorial and commercial strategies are set by publishers. Individuals in publishing career paths make choices about the markets their businesses will reach and the type of content that their audience will be served. Individuals in book publisher careers collaborate with editorial staff, designers, authors, and freelance contributors who develop and manage the creation of content.

Careers in journalism are filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. One cannot afford to miss out on the details. As it is the small details that provide insights into a story. Depending on those insights a journalist goes about writing a news article. A journalism career can be stressful at times but if you are someone who is passionate about it then it is the right choice for you. If you want to know more about the media field and journalist career then continue reading this article.

Individuals in the editor career path is an unsung hero of the news industry who polishes the language of the news stories provided by stringers, reporters, copywriters and content writers and also news agencies. Individuals who opt for a career as an editor make it more persuasive, concise and clear for readers. In this article, we will discuss the details of the editor's career path such as how to become an editor in India, editor salary in India and editor skills and qualities.

Individuals who opt for a career as a reporter may often be at work on national holidays and festivities. He or she pitches various story ideas and covers news stories in risky situations. Students can pursue a BMC (Bachelor of Mass Communication) , B.M.M. (Bachelor of Mass Media) , or  MAJMC (MA in Journalism and Mass Communication) to become a reporter. While we sit at home reporters travel to locations to collect information that carries a news value.  

Corporate Executive

Are you searching for a Corporate Executive job description? A Corporate Executive role comes with administrative duties. He or she provides support to the leadership of the organisation. A Corporate Executive fulfils the business purpose and ensures its financial stability. In this article, we are going to discuss how to become corporate executive.

Multimedia Specialist

A multimedia specialist is a media professional who creates, audio, videos, graphic image files, computer animations for multimedia applications. He or she is responsible for planning, producing, and maintaining websites and applications. 

Quality Controller

A quality controller plays a crucial role in an organisation. He or she is responsible for performing quality checks on manufactured products. He or she identifies the defects in a product and rejects the product. 

A quality controller records detailed information about products with defects and sends it to the supervisor or plant manager to take necessary actions to improve the production process.

Production Manager

A QA Lead is in charge of the QA Team. The role of QA Lead comes with the responsibility of assessing services and products in order to determine that he or she meets the quality standards. He or she develops, implements and manages test plans. 

Process Development Engineer

The Process Development Engineers design, implement, manufacture, mine, and other production systems using technical knowledge and expertise in the industry. They use computer modeling software to test technologies and machinery. An individual who is opting career as Process Development Engineer is responsible for developing cost-effective and efficient processes. They also monitor the production process and ensure it functions smoothly and efficiently.

AWS Solution Architect

An AWS Solution Architect is someone who specializes in developing and implementing cloud computing systems. He or she has a good understanding of the various aspects of cloud computing and can confidently deploy and manage their systems. He or she troubleshoots the issues and evaluates the risk from the third party. 

Azure Administrator

An Azure Administrator is a professional responsible for implementing, monitoring, and maintaining Azure Solutions. He or she manages cloud infrastructure service instances and various cloud servers as well as sets up public and private cloud systems. 

Computer Programmer

Careers in computer programming primarily refer to the systematic act of writing code and moreover include wider computer science areas. The word 'programmer' or 'coder' has entered into practice with the growing number of newly self-taught tech enthusiasts. Computer programming careers involve the use of designs created by software developers and engineers and transforming them into commands that can be implemented by computers. These commands result in regular usage of social media sites, word-processing applications and browsers.

Information Security Manager

Individuals in the information security manager career path involves in overseeing and controlling all aspects of computer security. The IT security manager job description includes planning and carrying out security measures to protect the business data and information from corruption, theft, unauthorised access, and deliberate attack 

ITSM Manager

Automation test engineer.

An Automation Test Engineer job involves executing automated test scripts. He or she identifies the project’s problems and troubleshoots them. The role involves documenting the defect using management tools. He or she works with the application team in order to resolve any issues arising during the testing process. 

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“The Doctor as a Humanist”: The Viewpoint of the Students

Conference Report and Reflection by Poposki Ognen (University Pompeu Fabra); Castillo Gualda Paula (University of Balearic Islands); Barbero Pablos Enrique (University Autonoma de Madrid); Pogosyan Mariam (Sechenov University); Yusupova Diana (Sechenov University); and Ahire Akash (Sechenov University)

Day 3 of the Symposium, students’ section, Sechenov University, Moscow.

The practice of Medicine as a profession has become very technical; doctors rely on fancy investigations, treatment algorithms and standardized guidelines in treating patients. In a lot of universities, medical students and residents are trained without appreciating the importance of art and the humanities in delivering good care to patients and their families. Factual knowledge is imposed on us, as students, from scientific evidence delivered by highly specialized professionals: those who know more and more about niche subjects.

As a result, when someone decides to become a doctor , it seems that scientific training is the sole priority, with most attention being given to the disease-treatment model. As medical students, we are taught very specific subjects, leaving little or no space or time for any cultural enrichment programs. And yet, Personal growth as a doctor and a human being cannot be achieved unless one is exposed to the whole range of human experience. Learning from art and artists can be one such means of gaining these enriching experiences. We can learn from historians, and from eminent painters, sculptors, and writers, as well as from great scientists. How do we achieve these ends? The following essay summarizes and reviews one attempt at providing answers. The 2nd “Doctor as a Humanist” Symposium took place at Sechenov University in Moscow from the 1 st to the 3 rd of April, 2019, to explore the holistic perspective of interpersonal treatment.

To begin our essay, we would like to clarify some key concepts, such as culture, humanism and humanities, as they were employed at the conference. Culture is a complex phenomenon that includes knowledge, beliefs, artistic production, morals, customs and skills acquired by being part of a society, which can be transmitted consciously or unconsciously, by individuals to others and through different generations.

The humanities are academic disciplines that study the cultural aspects and frailties of being human, and use methods that are primarily analytical, critical, or speculative, which distinguish them from the approaches of the natural sciences. Humanism is the practice of making the human story central. Consequently, the studies of humanities, so invested in human stories, is one aspect of practicing humanism.

Technological and practical progress in medicine has been impressive in the past fifty years. Nevertheless, patients still suffer from chronic conditions such as heart failure, chronic lung disease, depression, and many others. These are conditions where technology cannot significantly change the outcomes or reverse the underlying condition. One of the ways to alleviate suffering is through compassion and empathy where the doctor is a professional who listens to, understands and comforts the patient, as well as engaging the patient as a fellow human being. We need arts and humanities as doctors’ tools to comfort and, perhaps, even to heal. We also need them to remind us that we are ‘merely human’ ourselves, and that we share our humanity with our patients, as equals.

Unquestionably, there are fundamental requirements that every physician must internalize; the conference goal was to explain that one such requirement is the humanistic view. Opera, poetry, philosophy, history, the study of dialectics, biographical readings, and even volunteering abroad can be means of engaging the world for positive change. Sometimes called  “soft” skills, these are in fact necessary and valuable qualities to empower ourselves as persons, as well as doctors. The 2nd The Doctor as a Humanist Symposium placed the corner stone in a global project that aims to understand medicine as a multidisciplinary subject, and to establish the concept of humanistic medicine both as a science and an art where the patient and the doctor are human beings working together.

The international group of students after presenting their projects.


The event united experts in Medicine and the Humanities from all over the world. The speakers (doctors, nurses and students) were from Russia, the USA, the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany, Mexico and more. Each day’s program was both intense and diverse, and included plenary lectures and panel sessions. Medical students were highly involved in all parts of the conference, offering us a great chance to introduce our projects, share our opinions on various topics, and discuss our questions connected with the role of the humanities in medicine.We participated in roundtable discussions, which were chaired by experts from different countries. Even though this made us nervous, at the same time it was very important for us, as students, to be a part of it. We discussed the future of medical humanities from various perspectives, and above all our thoughts and ideas were listened to and commented on, on an equal basis with the world’s experts. For once, we could see that our views were being taken into consideration, and we hope that in the future this will be the norm and NOT the exception. We are the future of medicine, and our voices should be heard, too.

At the end of the first day there was a students’ session, where we gave our opinions on the relative importance of the medical humanities from a multicultural viewpoint, and on this particular roundtable there were students from Russia, Spain, Iran, Mexico, Italy, as well as a Nursing resident. One of the students during the session shared her view that “I would like to see medicine through the lens of humanism and empathy, and also implement all its principles in my professional life on a daily basis”. All participants agreed, and although we were representing different countries and cultures there was no disagreement about this. Even though we have not yet faced many of the obstacles of the world of medicine, we can see the role of compassion in clinical practice better perhaps than our seniors. We shared our points of view about this question and its relevance in the different countries. It was an incredible moment, as experts and professors demonstrated a great interest in our ideas.

The program was extremely diverse; however, the main idea that most speakers expressed was how to find, sustain and not lose humanist goals. Brandy Schillace gave an impressive presentation entitled “Medical Humanities today: a publisher’s perspective”, which studied the importance of writing and publishing not only clinical trials, but also papers from historians, literary scholars, sociologists, and patients with personal experiences. The nurses Pilar d’Agosto and Maria Arias made a presentation on the topic of the Nursing Perspective that is one of the main pillars of medical practice. Professor Jacek Mostwin (Johns Hopkins University) shared his thoughts on patients’ memoirs. An Italian student, Benedetta Ronchi presented the results of an interview on medical humanities posed to the participants and speakers during the symposium. The plurality of perspectives made this conference an enriching event and showed us how diverse ideas can help us become better doctors. More importantly, it reminded us of our common humanity.

A significant part of the symposium was dedicated to Medicine and Art. Prof Josep Baños and Irene Canbra Badii spoke about the portrayal of physicians in TV medical dramas during the last fifty years. The book “The role of the humanities in the teaching of medical students” was presented by these authors and then given to participants as gifts. Dr Ourania Varsou showed how Poetry can influence human senses through her own experience in communicating with patients. She believed that many of the opinions and knowledge that we have internalized should be unlearned in order to have a better understanding of the human mind. The stimulus of poetry makes this possible. Poetry allows us to find new ways to express ourselves, and thus increase our emotional intelligence and understanding of other people’s feelings.

One of the most impressive lectures was by Dr Joan.B Soriano, who spoke about “Doctors and Patients in Opera” and showed how the leading roles of physicians in opera have changed over the centuries. People used to consider the doctor as the antihero, but with time this view has transformed into a positive one that plays a huge role in history.

It is important to be professional in your medical career, but also to be passionate about the life surrounding you; for instance, Dr Soriano is also a professional baritone singer. For students, this Symposium was full of obvious and hidden messages, which gave us much lot of food for thought. As Edmund Pellegrino, the founding editor of the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy , said: “Medicine is the most humane of sciences, the most empiric of arts, and the most scientific of humanities.”

The first day of the Symposium, students from different countries during the roundtable.


To conclude our summary of the students’ viewpoint each of us chose One word to encapsulate our thoughts about the symposium.

The Doctor as a Humanist is a multicultural event where everyone can learn and contribute to this global necessity to put the heart and soul back into medicine. Of course, we are aware and delighted that other organizations are championing the cause of the Humanities in Medicine, and in some cases, such as , they have been doing so for many years.

As medical students, we appreciate how we have been placed at the centre of the symposium, which we believe has made this new initiative rather special. We hope that students of Medicine and from other disciplines come and participate in future symposia.

If you want to learn more, and see how you can participate, please contact the International student representatives, Mariam ( [email protected] ) and David ( [email protected] ).


Assistance provided by Jonathan McFarland (c) and Joan B. Soriano (University Autonoma de Madrid) was greatly appreciated during the planning and the development of the article.

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Why Do You Want To Be A Doctor? [+ Example Interview Answers]

Job interview


Many students fall into the trap of providing a vague answer about enjoying science, wanting to help people, or always wanting to be a doctor. What they don’t realize is that most (if not all) applicants to medical school share these characteristics!

What differentiates you in answering the question is unique to your situation, so you’ll want to incorporate memorable specifics into your answer to help paint a better picture of you as an applicant. Answering this question provides you with a unique opportunity to put your journey to applying to med school into a coherent narrative. With a little thought, tailoring your answer can be a great way to highlight the strengths in your application or to shore up weaknesses. Here are a couple of thoughts on how to answer the question, and some pitfalls to avoid: 

Share Your Resume, But Don’t Just Rehash It

Use your answer to highlight not only your interest in medicine but how you came to develop that interest. Applicants often highlight the origins of their desire to be a doctor but are short on details as to how their resume relates to the journey to applying to med school. It’s not enough to say you “always wanted” to be a doctor; show through stories what you did along the way to understand more about yourself and that desire.

Vague answer: “I always knew I wanted to be a doctor ever since I was a kid. I did some shadowing in high school and I volunteered in college at a hospital too, so I basically felt like I understood what doctors did every day and knew I wanted to be one.” 

This answer doesn’t provide much information about the applicant beyond what could already be found on their resume. Your interviewers will want to hear more about you as a person that they couldn’t find out by reading the rest of your application. 

Better answer: “I didn’t come from a family of doctors, but my parents say it was always something I was interested in. After one of my friends told me about how their dad, who is a doctor, used to be on call all the time and would sometimes miss holidays or birthdays from getting called to the hospital, I decided it would be a good idea to try to get a better sense of what it was actually like being a doctor. I asked to shadow him in high school, and it really opened my eyes to the fact that if I was going to do this, I needed to be really sure I was ready to handle the demands of the job. I started volunteering at our local emergency department in college to try to prepare myself even more. I learned a lot from being in the ED – not just about being a doctor, but about all the other roles it takes to successfully care for a patient. Now that I’m better informed, I want to be a doctor because there’s no other job where the sacrifice seems so worth it – you can make an immediate, life-changing difference for people, as I saw time and again when patients came in with strokes, heart attacks, and injuries.” 

This answer adds detail that might not be evident elsewhere in the application. It shows that the applicant understands some of the demands of being a doctor (missing holidays and birthdays, acknowledging  personal sacrifice) as well as highlighting an attempt to grow personally and gain clinical skills as a motivation for volunteering (rather than “checking a box” to show they volunteered). It also opens the possibility of the interviewer asking follow-up questions about what they saw in the emergency department that they liked or disliked, or what they learned from that experience. 

Answer Why Medicine, Rather Than Another Career In The Sciences

There are many jobs where you can use science to help people other than being a doctor, and there seem to be more every day. This might have been your initial motivation for exploring becoming a doctor, but interviewers will want to know how you built on that motivation and decided on medicine specifically. Liking science and wanting to help people are great initial motivations, but interviewers will want to see more than that in an application. Be sure to use your answer to expand on why medicine specifically, versus another career in the sciences.

Vague answer: “I really enjoyed science in high school, and I knew I wanted to help people, so I decided to major in biology in college. I wasn’t really sure whether or not to apply to med school right away, so I took a gap year after college and worked as a scribe.” 

This answer doesn’t sound as if the interviewee has put much thought into addressing the question. It might also invite some unwelcome questions about why the interviewee took a “gap year,” and prompt the interviewer to ask whether they’ve applied to medical school before and failed to get in, or about their academic record, which could present a problem if it is not stellar.

Better answer: “As a high school student, I was fascinated with my science classes. Someone suggested I consider biology as a major in college, so I gave it a shot. Even though I loved my classes and the research lab that I worked in, I wasn’t completely satisfied with how I was applying what I knew. Rather than trying to apply to med school right away, I decided to spend a year working with patients to see if it was right for me. I took a job as a medical scribe, and it really confirmed my suspicion that medicine was a better fit for me than benchwork would have been. Seeing the way the doctors in our clinic utilized their knowledge to help people every day in a tangible way showed me  that medicine was the way I wanted to apply my skills. Having some patient contact scratched that itch of what I needed that I wasn’t getting from my benchwork: the chance to directly apply scientific principles to a person to help them in real time.” 

This answer is actually from the same student, with more detail. It sounds more confident, explains the gap year coherently, and illustrates personal growth. An interviewer would be much more likely to follow up with a question about the applicant’s research background or clinic experience next, rather than trying to get more details about a gap year. 

Consider Why You Want To Be A Physician Specifically

For some interviewers, it’s not good enough to say you want to go into medicine alone. Interviewers will want to know why you want to be a doctor specifically versus a nurse, physician assistant, physical therapist, or any other number of healthcare professionals who care directly for patients. Your answer should explain that you’ve been exposed to these possibilities and have a specific reason for choosing to pursue one over another. 

Vague answer: “I spent a lot of my career as an operating room nurse, but after a while, I really wanted to prescribe medicines, call the shots, and make more money. That’s when I decided to apply to med school.” 

Although this answer is somewhat exaggerated, it isn’t far off from real answers given by less-than-savvy applicants. This answer shows a lack of understanding of the roles of various health professions. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants can often prescribe medications, and in an increasingly team-based world, doctors aren’t the sole decision-makers when it comes to patient care. If autonomy were a big motivator for this applicant, there are better ways to express this. 

Better answer: “As an operating room nurse, I loved the patient care contact, and I found myself fascinated by what surgeons did on a daily basis. As time went on, I realized I wasn’t going to be satisfied in my career unless I was able to actually perform surgery independently on a patient. While some of my colleagues went on to become nurse practitioners or physician assistants, I wanted to go the physician route because I knew I wanted to be performing surgery in the OR independently. I want to be a doctor because I want to be a surgeon, and there isn’t another way for me to achieve that dream.”

This answer shows a better understanding of team roles and scope of practice than the previous one. It still gets at the idea of autonomy, while showing an understanding of team roles. A followup question might include a discussion of the applicant’s nursing experience or desire to be a surgeon specifically. 

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In summary….

There are as many ways to answer the “why do you want to be a doctor” question as there are applicants to medical school, so it pays to prepare an answer ahead of time. Use the fact that the question is virtually guaranteed to your advantage, and highlight elements of your application that aren’t immediately obvious on review of your resume. With some careful planning, your answer can set you up for success in the rest of your medical school interview!

Brennan Kruszewski

Dr. Brennan Kruszewski is a practicing internist and primary care physician in Beachwood, Ohio. He graduated from Emory University School of Medicine in 2018, and recently completed his residency in Internal Medicine at University Hospitals/Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He enjoys writing about a variety of medical topics, including his time in academic medicine and how to succeed as a young physician. In his spare time, he is an avid cyclist, lover of classical literature, and choral singer.

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Medical School Interview

What to Bring to a Medical School Interview–And What to Expect

Preparing for Medical School

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How to Get Into Medical School: Preparing a Strong Application

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Essay on Doctor: Samples in 200, 300, 400 Words

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essay on doctor

Essay on Doctor: Doctors all over the world are given the stature of a god. This is because they are known for saving lives and helping people in distress. With each passing day, they work tirelessly for mankind. Additionally, one of the most sought-after careers is that of a doctor. A lot of parents encourage their children to become a doctor because of their stature and role. here are essay on the doctor which highlights their importance in society and much more.  

good doctor essay

Table of Contents

  • 1 Importance of Doctors In a Society
  • 2 Essay on Doctor in 200 Words
  • 3 Essay on Doctor in 300 Words
  • 4 Essay on Doctor in 400 Words 

Also Read: Essay on Water Pollution

Importance of Doctors In a Society

In the past two years, doctors all over the world have played a significant role in saving the lives of people. The importance of a doctor was understood, especially during the time of COVID-19 . All doctors around the world worked really hard to contain the pandemic. 

Similarly, the doctor has other roles, including, shaping the health policy, and creating an economic impact.   

Essay on Doctor in 200 Words

A doctor is a member of the medical community who is essential to preserving and enhancing human health. Due to their proficiency in identifying and managing a wide range of ailments, they are frequently referred to as the saviours of life. Doctors receive considerable training and education to equip them with the knowledge and abilities needed for their vocation.

Numerous social roles are filled by doctors. Through physical examinations, diagnostic tests, and patient interviews, they identify medical issues. Doctors create treatment plans after a diagnosis is made, which may involve medication, surgery, or other medical procedures. They also provide advice on precautions to keep up a healthy lifestyle .

Beyond their knowledge of medicine, good doctors have other traits as well. Since doctors must support patients and their families emotionally during times of illness and hardship, compassion and empathy are vital qualities. They must effectively communicate, breaking down complex medical information for patients.

Along with general practitioners, there are a number of specialists who concentrate on other medical specialities, including cardiologists, surgeons, paediatricians, and psychiatrists. By specialising, doctors can provide cutting-edge care in the field of their choice.

To conclude, physicians are the backbone of healthcare, committed to maintaining and enhancing patient well-being. They are indispensable members of society because of their selfless efforts, compassion, and dedication to the well-being of patients. Doctors are at the forefront of medical discoveries and innovations, which is how the medical profession is continuing to change.

Also Read: Essay on Allama Iqbal

Essay on Doctor in 300 Words

Doctors are an essential part of society and are crucial to maintaining and improving people’s health. Their profession is a blend of science, compassion, and unwavering dedication. This essay will examine the varied responsibilities of doctors and their significant influence on our lives.

Doctors are trained experts who are primarily responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illnesses. They devote years to perfecting their medical knowledge and skills, learning intricate ideas in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and other fields. Their diagnostic skills, which frequently involve cutting-edge technology and research, are crucial for diagnosing illnesses and creating winning treatment strategies.

Doctors are skilled medical professionals who also have a vast reservoir of compassion. They frequently see patients in vulnerable, frightened, or painful situations. This necessitates not only medical knowledge but also kindness and sensitivity. Patients and their families often find great comfort in a doctor’s reassuring presence, especially during trying times.

To safeguard the health of their patients, doctors put in endless effort, frequently going above and beyond what is required. They put in long hours, make crucial choices, and usually deal with emotionally trying circumstances. They remain steadfast in their dedication to the “do no harm” oath they make, despite the pressure and stress.

Doctors also play a crucial role in the advancement of medical research and knowledge. Their contributions to academic institutions, clinical trials, and medical discoveries are crucial in advancing healthcare. Through their work, previously untreatable illnesses are now treatable, and medical operations are becoming safer and more effective.

Doctors are essential in both preventive care and health education. They inform patients on leading healthy lives, preventing disease, and the value of routine checkups. Doctors assist in lowering the cost of disease in society by educating people and empowering them.

In conclusion, doctors are the foundation of our healthcare system because they combine scientific knowledge with empathy and commitment. All of us benefit from their tireless efforts to comfort, heal, and progress medical research. Let us honour the important role that doctors play in our lives by recognising their invaluable contributions to our health and by thanking them for their unwavering dedication to the protection of human health.

Essay on Doctor in 400 Words 

Doctors, who are frequently called “healers,” occupy a special and highly regarded position in society. They are the keepers of health, the ones who save people’s lives, and the ones who bring hope. In a society where illnesses are rife, becoming a doctor is more than just a decision to pursue a job; it is a calling, a vocation motivated by an unwavering desire to relieve human suffering.

The road to becoming a doctor is a challenging one that demands years of education and training. Typically, it starts with a bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline, then medical school, which is nothing short of a test of wills. Medical students spend a lot of time learning about the complexities of the human body, including anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and a host of other topics that contribute to the complexity of medicine. Lectures, labs, and many hours of studying fill their days, which frequently go well into the night.

After receiving their medical degrees, doctors enter the world of residency, where they put their expertise to use while being closely supervised by seasoned mentors. This demanding time will put their physical stamina and mental fortitude to the test. They experience the most trying times in life, from hopeful births to urgent situations requiring quick judgements. They become skilled and caring healthcare professionals thanks to the essential experience they obtain during residency.

The duties of a doctor go beyond merely identifying and treating ailments. They assist patients in understanding their health conditions and preventative measures by acting as educators. They are counsellors who provide emotional help to people in need. They are ardent proponents of health equity, working nonstop to guarantee that everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, has access to healthcare.

Although medical technology has advanced quickly in the modern era, the doctor-patient interaction is still at the centre of medicine. A doctor’s capacity to successfully listen, empathise, and communicate can be just as therapeutic as any drug. Patients frequently entrust these committed experts with their trust and, in some cases, their lives.

In their field of work, doctors deal with a variety of difficulties. They must commit to lifelong study because medical knowledge is constantly evolving. The rigours of the work can be emotionally stressful because they frequently have to make life-or-death decisions. Given that emergencies don’t adhere to a schedule, juggling work and personal obligations can be difficult.

Nevertheless, despite these difficulties, a doctor’s job is one of incomparable importance. They observe the human spirit’s tenacity and the wonders of contemporary medicine. They acknowledge the patients’ and their families’ sincere thanks as well as the joy of recovery.

To end this, a doctor’s career is more than simply a job; it’s a lifetime commitment to helping people heal and be cared for. They are the unsung heroes of society because of their commitment, selflessness, and knowledge. We must respect and support doctors in their noble goal to relieve pain and advance well-being as recipients of their unflinching service. Doctors exhibit the finest traits of humanity, including wisdom, compassion, and the ability to heal, and they make incalculable contributions to society.

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Some of the basic rules of doctors are: always about the patient; Patients are people; People are neither rational nor predictable; It’s a bond; Use the right tool(s) for the job, etc.

Sir William Osler, the founding member of Johns Hopkins Hospital, described Imhotep as “the first figure of a physician to stand out clearly from the mists of antiquity.”

Doctors are known for saving lives helping people to recover from their injuries and minimising physical pain. Sometimes the job of a doctor goes far beyond this realm, where they not only heal physical injuries but help in recovering from traumatic experiences.

We hope this blog provides you with all the information about doctors and how they are so important to society. For more information related to such interesting topics, visit our essay writing page and make sure to follow Leverage Edu .

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Malvika Chawla

Malvika is a content writer cum news freak who comes with a strong background in Journalism and has worked with renowned news websites such as News 9 and The Financial Express to name a few. When not writing, she can be found bringing life to the canvasses by painting on them.

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Essay on Doctor for Students and Children

500+ words essay on doctor.

Doctors all over the world are given the stature next to God. It happens so mostly because they are lifesavers who work tirelessly for mankind. Moreover, being a doctor is considered one of the most sought-after professions. People want their kids to become doctors and they instill this dream in them from an early age.

Essay on Doctor

Doctors have a very noble profession. In addition, they are equipped with comprehensive knowledge and devices that enable them to diagnose and treat their patients with correct procedures. Doctors require medical staffs that help them in performing their treatment. They are very proficient and have proved their importance time and again for mankind.

The Medical Scenario of India

The medical scenario in India is renowned all over the world. The doctors originating from India are reaching new heights globally abroad. However, when we talk about the medical scenario within the country, we see how it’s quite worrying.

In other words, all capable and talented doctors are moving abroad in search of better job opportunities and facilities. Therefore, we see there is a lack of doctors in the country to cater to the ever-growing population.

But if we see on the bright side, we will notice how Indian doctors are very charitable in comparison to doctors of other countries. As India has been a country of tradition, the qualities are deeply rooted in our culture. This reflects in the medical scenario of the country as well.

good doctor essay

Aside from the allopathic doctors, India also has doctors who practice Ayurvedic , Unani as well as Homeopathic system of medicine. These are very famous practices which do not have any side effects. This is so because they are completely herbal making them very popular.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

The Degradation of Doctors

Although the medical field is evolving, there are still immoral practices in the field which makes it tough for patients to get the right treatment. Corruption has not spared this field as well.

India suffers from a high illiteracy rate which results in people fooling the citizens for money. There are many wrongs and unethical medical practices prevalent in India which brings a bad name to the country.

Moreover, the greed for money has resulted in various losses of lives of patients. The hospitals diagnose the patients wrongly and give them the wrong treatment. This results in even more worse results. The public is losing its faith in the medical field and its doctors.

As a result, this impacts the reputation of the medical field. Doctors must be more responsible and vigilant with the lives of their patients. The government must provide the public with good medical facilities which can bridge this gap. In addition, we must also come together to help doctors do their job better.

{ “@context”: “”, “@type”: “FAQPage”, “mainEntity”: [{ “@type”: “Question”, “name”: “Why do we consider are doctors next to God?”, “acceptedAnswer”: { “@type”: “Answer”, “text”: “We give doctors the stature next to God as they save lives and help people become better through their knowledge and treatment.” } }, { “@type”: “Question”, “name”: “Why are Indian doctors moving abroad?”, “acceptedAnswer”: { “@type”: “Answer”, “text”:”Indian doctors are settling abroad as they do not find ample opportunities in the country. Lack of goof facilities is also a reason for it. Most importantly, the pay scale in foreign countries is much better than that of India.”} }] }

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  • Medical School Interview

“Why do You Want to Become a Doctor?”: What Real MDs Say

Featured Expert: Dr. Monica Taneja, MD


Everyone gives a different answer to the question, “why do you want to become a doctor?” but funnily enough, they also give the same answer. Students invariably share some kind of desire to help people, early childhood encounter with a doctor or illness, that medicine is in the family, their love science, their sacred calling, etc. The fact that people usually have the same reason for entering medicine is what makes answering “why do you want to become a doctor?” so difficult during medical school interviews or when writing a medical school personal statement . But the important thing to remember about knowing how to answer “why do you want to become a doctor?” is, according to our expert Dr. Monica Taneja, MD and graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, to create “a clear timeline” of your path to medical school. This blog will explore further what Dr. Taneja means, and show you a path to how to answer “why do you want to become a doctor?” based on our work with premeds and conversations with practicing physicians. 

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 15 min read

Why do you want to become a doctor creating a clear timeline.

What does Dr. Taneja mean by creating a “clear timeline”? She means that you have to create a narrative with a beginning, middle and end, with the beginning being your initial motivation for pursuing medicine; the middle being everything you did – “all the highlights”, in Dr. Taneja’s words – to get to the end, which is the interview stage of the medical school application process. Your interviewers want to hear about your journey to this point and how different it is from every other applicant’s – this is the central motivation behind why admissions committees ask “why do you want to become a doctor?”; they want to hear the whole story.

Like I tell students I work with, when telling your story during interviews or in your personal statement or your medical school secondary essays , you want to almost entertain your audience; you want them to sympathize with you, and you want them to root for you. If you or your loved ones becoming ill isn’t your story, then talk about whatever it was that drew you to medicine. Talk about your interest in science. Talk about how, if your parents or other family members are doctors, watching them work inspired you. Maybe it wasn’t even a childhood experience. Maybe, if you’re a non-traditional medical school applicant , you chose to become a doctor later in life.

Christopher Czarnecki was five years out of university when he realized that he wanted to pursue medicine, so there are many paths to becoming a doctor. Fang Wang, who eventually became an MD/MPH first “decided to go to public health school to learn the skills for chronic disease prevention and management,” to gain a better understanding of how to care for a specific patient demographic. Megana Varma, who took the PA to MD path worked as a physician assistant before being accepted to two DO schools. She decided on this path because:

"When I worked as a medical assistant, I saw myself assimilate with the workflow, how the care team operated together, and patient-centered interactions."

Megana does not only talk about helping people, but she gives specific examples, such as “how the care team operated together” and “patient-centered interactions” as her reasons for becoming a doctor. She had to explain that decision, and you should do the same. What was behind that decision? And, more importantly, what did you do after?

Did you learn how to study for the MCAT? Did you talk to a medical school advisor to gauge your chances of getting into medical school and make sure you meet medical school requirements ? These questions apply to everyone, in every demographic, who wants to get into medical school, because showing what you’ve done to get to the point where you’re one step away from getting into medical school is the key to answering “why do you want to become a doctor?” 

One example of how to answer “why do you want to become a doctor?” by telling a story with a clear timeline is Dr. Neel Mistry. A graduate of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Mistry backed up Dr. Taneja’s advice by presenting his story with a clear beginning, middle and end. When he was asked “why do you want to become a doctor?”, Dr. Mistry “talked about a childhood experience that drew me to medicine.” He then “reflected on my core values and interests,” and rather than simply stating his values and general interest in medicine, Dr. Mistry then “tied that into why medicine was the best fit” for him.

This last part is especially important since you want to be able to show your interviewers why you think becoming a doctor is the best way for you to manifest your desire to help people, if that is your reason for wanting to become a doctor. Wanting to help people is all well and good, but there are many professions you can enter to help people – lawyer, paramedic, police officer, teacher – so, an important aspect of answering “why do you want to become a doctor?” is making the case that medicine is the only way for you to achieve this goal.

Using Dr. Taneja’s advice, and inspired by Dr. Mistry’s example, here are three important points to remember when thinking about how to answer “why do you want to become a doctor?” 

  • The beginning: communicate the event or events that triggered your curiosity about the field
  • The middle: explain what you did after to learn more about the field
  • The end: explain what solidified your decision to choose medicine and identify your specific reasons

These are general points so they can be used by anyone to fit any story. For many, including Dr. Mistry, the beginning might have been during childhood; the beginning of his timeline was a “childhood experience”, which, as I said above, is what many premeds talk about when asked “why do you want to become a doctor?”. For example, Kathryn Carbajal, who applied to medical schools in the US , said that she wanted to become a doctor “after watching my grandfather suffer complications of Type 2 diabetes.”

This experience is unique to Kathryn, and you might have a completely different story or beginning, but whatever it is, you have to start there for the sake of creating a “clear timeline”. You don’t want to confuse your interviewers with a shifting timeline, where you jump back and forth between your childhood, high school and undergraduate years.

In Kathryn’s case, she started with her grandfather’s experience with diabetes and then she could have gone on to talk about what she did to follow-through on her motivation; she could’ve started volunteering with diabetes support groups as an extracurricular for medical school; or she could’ve gone the academic route by talking about taking elective undergraduate courses in fields related to the disease, such as physiology, biochemistry or genetics. 

At this point, I want to remind you that your reason for wanting to become a doctor is not as important as the actions you have taken to make that dream a reality. Everyone has a different (or similar) reason for wanting to become a doctor, but what will distinguish you during the application process, or interview, is showing what you’ve done personally to follow-through on this desire, much more than simply stating this desire.

Taking everything we’ve talked about up until now into account, we now can start looking at how you can start thinking about your answer “why do you want to become a doctor?”. Your reason for wanting to become a doctor may jump out at you right away, crystal clear. Or maybe it was a series of choices or events in your life which led you to an interest in medicine. Regardless of where you fall, if you don’t have a ready answer, it’s time to dig deep and start asking yourself some self-reflective questions.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get started on creating your personal narrative:

  • What were the defining moments in your life?
  • What were your early experiences with the medical profession? Which ones made an impression on you?
  • When was the moment you decided to apply to medical school? What spurred your decision?
  • Is there someone in your life who inspires you? Why?
  • What qualities do you have that you think would make a good doctor?
  • What started your curiosity or interest in medicine?
  • What experiences do you have that have grown your interest in medicine?
  • What about the medical profession most appeals to you? Why do you want to become a doctor over another related profession?

These are good questions to start brainstorming the content of your answer. You don’t have to have an answer to all of these questions, but you can choose one or two that stick out to you and then use as the foundation to build a longer, but concise narrative. But even though I talked about how you have to be entertaining, or have a compelling story, you should not in any way make up a story or outright lie about your past. Our expert MD and a graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine , cautions “straight lying or overly unrealistic situations should be avoided.” However, in the service of hooking in your audience, Dr. Cazes does say “it is OK to slightly embellish some details of your story to make it more interesting.”

You shouldn’t create a fantasy about what you’ve done – anyway, as Dr. Cazes says, “it is easy for reviewers to spot a fake story or an overly unrealistic one” – because you feel your background is lacking in achievement or experience. But you should remember that one of your goals in answering “why do you want to become a doctor” is to be interesting, which you can do by making certain details, or circumstances more high-stakes and vivid without telling a lie about yourself.

For guidance, Dr. Cazes uses the example of talking about “the time your friend was smashed up against the boards in hockey and you, with your limited first aid experience helped.” The embellishment here is “your limited first aid experience” if you indeed had first-aid certification at the time, since saying you had no experience makes the story more interesting. A lie would be saying you played hockey, when you never played hockey. To summarize, you shouldn’t lie about having an experience, but you can adjust some details to highlight your best qualities.

Want more tips on how to answer this question? Watch this!

Highlighting Your Best Qualities

Your “best qualities” is something I want to get back to, since I quoted Dr. Taneja about using “all the highlights” in the middle of your answer to “why do you want to become a doctor”. Your highlights – all the places where you stand out or achieved something exemplary (awards; publications; participation in groundbreaking clinical research) - are something your answer should definitely include, especially if they are the culmination of hard work and initiative.

Your highlights should be the icing on the cake, but since you don’t want your answer to be overly long (if you’re in an interview) or if you want to talk about various experiences (in a personal statement), you should limit yourself to talking, or mentioning, only a few – 1 to 3 experiences tops, to be exact. You’ll talk a lot about important experiences in your AMCAS work and activities section or AMCAS most meaningful experience section, as they are ommon medical school requirements , you should focus on the experiences that can be put together into an engaging and impactful story of how you decided to pursue medicine.

You don’t want to be overly boastful and talk about all your highlights – as Dr. Jaime Cazes points out “it is very easy to come off as being braggy” but you want to pick one or two that best highlights something unique about you or, as Dr. Mistry says, touch upon “major themes” about your story. “Major themes” and “highlights” are connected because you can establish something about yourself early on – for example, Dr. Mistry’s themes were “lifelong learning, intellectual complexity, and ability to lead while making a tangible difference in patients’ lives” - which you can then book-end with a “highlight”.

Using “lifelong learning” as an example, you can talk about anything from volunteering as an academic tutor, learning a new language, sport, or hobby, attending important conferences or joining specific student clubs. But don’t just list the activities. You want to find something within this experience that taught you something new or helped push you toward medicine, which is what Dr. Taneja did. She not only talked about “key points in my initial decision-making process” but followed that with “the highlights that show (emphasis added) that I validated the path.” “Validated the path” is another great quote from Dr. Taneja and it gets to the heart of how to build the best responses to “why do you want to become a doctor?”

Validate Your Path

I think what Dr. Taneja means by “validating your path” is something that I’ve talked about throughout this article, which is that your reasons for wanting to become a doctor are not as significant as the actions you’ve taken to become one. Why?

Because being a doctor is incredibly difficult. There is both no “ easiest doctor to become ” nor an easiest doctor to be; regardless of the medical specialty you choose, each comes with its own unique challenges and triumphs. Your interviewers want to see that you’ve put in the time and energy (both mental and physical) to prepare yourself for the long and arduous journey of becoming a doctor, which, on average, can take up to eight or ten years. 

In general, medicine is not a career for people who do not see themselves working more than 50 hours per week and on holidays. This is not a career for people who prefer to move around a lot or travel. This is not a career for people who aren't responsible and focused. Medical school admissions committees ask applicants this question because first, they want to learn more about you and your motivations for studying medicine, and they want to see if you have given serious thought to your future as a doctor.

“Why do you want to become a doctor?” may seem like it has an obvious answer, but it requires deep reflection, self-awareness and thoughtfulness to answer it. And since everyone’s answer to this question will be different, this is also an opportunity for you as a medical school applicant to forge a connection with the reader or the interviewers and make yourself stand out.

Since we’ve covered what you should talk about in your answer and where you should draw your inspiration from, I’ll go over them one more time and then present a sample answer to “why do you want to become a doctor” written according to the guidelines given to us by real MDs.

1. Establish a Clear Timeline

We started this article with Dr. Taneja’s advice about creating a timeline, and that is the best way to approach crafting an answer to “why do you want to become a doctor?” If you’re unsure about what to talk about and are having a hard time organizing your thoughts, do what Dr. Cazes did and “start with a story”. Give yourself a beginning, middle and end so you can fill in those key moments with your experiences, thoughts, reflections, and most important, your actions. To do this, you’ll really have to dig deep and be honest with yourself about what started your fascination with medicine and wanting to become a doctor. You can use the questions we posted above as a starting point to do this, and then, when you have your reason for wanting to become a doctor, you have to move to the next point, which is what you’ve done to, in Dr. Taneja’s words, validate your path. Conversely, in the beginning of your answer, if you don’t have a specific moment or event that sparked your interest in medicine, but you’re more interested in the academic or scientific aspect, you can mention that as your desire, or “major theme” as Dr. Mistry put it, that has attracted you to medicine and then follow up with actions you’ve taken.

2. Talk about Your Highlights

Once you’ve settled on your reason to become a doctor, you then have to show what actions you’ve taken to prepare yourself for medical school and the medical profession. Desire alone is not enough to get you through anything let alone the gauntlet that is four years of medical school, five or more years of residency and any number of years in a medical fellowship to specialize in a specific field, so, your highlights should show that you possess the qualities that medical associations in both the US and Canada have published as the ideal qualities any prospective physician should have. Among the seventeen different AAMC’s Core Competencies for premeds you’ll find: cultural awareness; cultural humility; empathy and compassion; interpersonal skills; oral communication skills; and critical thinking, so your “highlights” should be any instance in your past where you embodied any of these competencies. In Canada, the CanMEDS Framework lists seven “roles” a competent and professional physician should embody, which include: scholar; health advocate; professional; leader. The same applies to these roles, in that you should, in Dr. Cazes words, “always give specific examples” for how you have lived up to these roles, “as opposed to broad statements about yourself.”

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3. Finish with “Why Medicine?”

After you’ve established your reasons for wanting to become a doctor, and have given concrete examples of what you’ve done to develop the qualities of a competent, future physician, you then need to talk about what specifically made you decide on medicine. This can be tricky, as everyone will arrive at this decision differently. And, again, there may not be a singular event that occurred, but more an amalgamation of different experiences that helped you decide. If you’re having trouble finding a specific reason or cause behind choosing medicine, you can, according to Dr. Cazes, “look back on your CV/experiences and think about a specific moment or thing that happened that formulated who you are as a person.” You should show a natural progression from your initial desire, or let’s say, your flirtation, with the idea of becoming a doctor to a time when you became certain that you wanted to become a doctor.

My journey to become a doctor began when my father lost his foot to diabetes. He didn’t even know he had diabetes, until it was too late. We lived on the Glebe Farm reservation outside of Brantford, and there were no preventative medicine doctors or any outreach to prevent any disease, let alone diabetes. Seeing how my father struggled to adjust to life as an amputee, and later finding out it could have been prevented left me with a profound awareness of the healthcare shortages and disparities in Indigenous communities.

I started to research online for any organizations or groups involved in preventative healthcare, which led me to the Kingston Aboriginal Community Information Network (KACIN), a Facebook group in Kingston. Through this online community, I had the opportunity to connect with the Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle (IDHC), through which I gained my first experiences in education and preventative medicine. 

We initiated a program that offered online seminars and webinars about mindful movement, designed to help people in remote areas prevent diabetes through physical activity and healthier lifestyle choices. But, despite our efforts, many people continued to be diagnosed with diabetes, which made clear to me that going into medicine was the path I needed to follow. My personal experience with my father and my experience with KACIN, and the IDHC, have solidified my determination to become a doctor. It is my calling to start helping people, and I am ready to take the necessary steps to make this dream a reality.

Terrible Reasons for Wanting to Become a Doctor

I wanted to finish with a list of terrible reasons to become a doctor. While some of these may be a small part of why you want to pursue medicine, they cannot be your main reason, so avoid sharing these at all costs!

  • To make money: You will, but there are way easier and more profitable ways. The dream to become the highest paid doctor is not going to impress the admission committees.
  • Because your parents are doctors: If you're doing this to earn someone else's respect or love, this will never work. Medicine is not a birthright. However, the skills and aptitudes for medicine can be socially and environmentally influenced. Either way, you have to want it independently of your parents or grandparents.
  • To hold power over people: An obviously bad answer.
  • To launch a career in politics: See #1. Wanting to use your cultural authority as a doctor to be a sociopolitical advocate and an agent of progressive change is, however, different from wanting to be a career politician.
  • To make a name for yourself: You can, but see #1. And also you shouldn't be building a personal brand off of another's pathology.
  • To prove your self worth: Medicine can be esteem-crushing. You will fail harder in medicine, and with terrible consequences, than in any other profession before you start to figure it out. So save your ego the bruises.
  • Because your current career is terrible: You have to be driven from a positive place, not from a deficit.

To answer this interview question can be tricky, since it is open-ended and everyone’s answer will be different. To answer it, you need to identity the primary reason why YOU want to become a doctor and how you came to this realization. Take some time to brainstorm and reflect on your past experiences which have led you to pursue a career in medicine, then turn this into a short, personal narrative you can deliver as an interview answer. 

Medical school interviewers ask this question because they want to get to know you on a deeper level, but they also want to know your motivations for pursuing a career in medicine. They want to admit students who have a genuine, passionate interest in medicine. 

Some good reasons for becoming a doctor include helping others, of course, and there are many professional benefits of being a doctor. Medicine is also a diverse, stimulating and interesting field which is constantly evolving and has many career avenues for practitioners to explore. 

A good answer to this interview question will be different for each applicant, but a strong answer will be genuine, self-reflective, well-structured and passionate. Present your personal reasons for pursuing medicine as a career as more than just a desire to help people or because medicine is an interesting field. Use a personal narrative to explain what has drawn you towards medicine.

Yes, your answer to this question is extremely important. Medical school interviewers are expecting a strong and clear answer. Any uncertainty or insincere reasons you give for wanting to be a doctor may lead to you being rejected as a candidate.

Start by sharing what sparked your initial interest in medicine, then explain what you did to deepen your interest in becoming a doctor. Finally, explain what the defining moment was or what solidified your decision to become a doctor.

There are many resources to help you prepare for medical school interviews. One of the best ways is to use mock medical school interviews, as they are the closest simulation to the real deal. You can also seek help from medical school advisor or medical school admission consultants, who can give you personalized feedback on your interview answers and interview performance.

Avoid naming money, prestige or job security as reasons why you want to be a doctor. If your parents were doctors or pushed you to become a doctor, this will not be viewed as a good reason by admission committees, either.

There are many qualities that make a good doctor, but above all, doctors need to be excellent listeners and communicators and empathetic and caring to their patients. Doctors need to be advocates for their patients, be able to work well as part of a medical team, and have a desire for lifelong learning.

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good doctor essay

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  • A Doctor's Visit

THE Professor received a telegram from the Lyalikovs' factory; he was asked to come as quickly as possible. The daughter of some Madame Lyalikov, apparently the owner of the factory, was ill, and that was all that one could make out of the long, incoherent telegram. And the Professor did not go himself, but sent instead his assistant, Korolyov. It was two stations from Moscow, and there was a drive of three miles from the station. A carriage with three horses had been sent to the station to meet Korolyov; the coachman wore a hat with a peacock's feather on it, and answered every question in a loud voice like a soldier: "No, sir!" "Certainly, sir!" It was Saturday evening; the sun was setting, the workpeople were coming in crowds from the factory to the station, and they bowed to the carriage in which Korolyov was driving. And he was charmed with the evening, the farmhouses and villas on the road, and the birch-trees, and the quiet atmosphere all around, when the fields and woods and the sun seemed preparing, like the workpeople now on the eve of the holiday, to rest, and perhaps to pray. . . . He was born and had grown up in Moscow; he did not know the country, and he had never taken any interest in factories, or been inside one, but he had happened to read about factories, and had been in the houses of manufacturers and had talked to them; and whenever he saw a factory far or near, he always thought how quiet and peaceable it was outside, but within there was always sure to be impenetrable ignorance and dull egoism on the side of the owners, wearisome, unhealthy toil on the side of the workpeople, squabbling, vermin, vodka. And now when the workpeople timidly and respectfully made way for the carriage, in their faces, their caps, their walk, he read physical impurity, drunkenness, nervous exhaustion, bewilderment. They drove in at the factory gates. On each side he caught glimpses of the little houses of workpeople, of the faces of women, of quilts and linen on the railings. "Look out!" shouted the coachman, not pulling up the horses. It was a wide courtyard without grass, with five immense blocks of buildings with tall chimneys a little distance one from another, warehouses and barracks, and over everything a sort of grey powder as though from dust. Here and there, like oases in the desert, there were pitiful gardens, and the green and red roofs of the houses in which the managers and clerks lived. The coachman suddenly pulled up the horses, and the carriage stopped at the house, which had been newly painted grey; here was a flower garden, with a lilac bush covered with dust, and on the yellow steps at the front door there was a strong smell of paint. "Please come in, doctor," said women's voices in the passage and the entry, and at the same time he heard sighs and whisperings. "Pray walk in. . . . We've been expecting you so long. . . we're in real trouble. Here, this way." Madame Lyalikov -- a stout elderly lady wearing a black silk dress with fashionable sleeves, but, judging from her face, a simple uneducated woman -- looked at the doctor in a flutter, and could not bring herself to hold out her hand to him; she did not dare. Beside her stood a personage with short hair and a pince-nez; she was wearing a blouse of many colours, and was very thin and no longer young. The servants called her Christina Dmitryevna, and Korolyov guessed that this was the governess. Probably, as the person of most education in the house, she had been charged to meet and receive the doctor, for she began immediately, in great haste, stating the causes of the illness, giving trivial and tiresome details, but without saying who was ill or what was the matter. The doctor and the governess were sitting talking while the lady of the house stood motionless at the door, waiting. From the conversation Korolyov learned that the patient was Madame Lyalikov's only daughter and heiress, a girl of twenty, called Liza; she had been ill for a long time, and had consulted various doctors, and the previous night she had suffered till morning from such violent palpitations of the heart, that no one in the house had slept, and they had been afraid she might die. "She has been, one may say, ailing from a child," said Christina Dmitryevna in a sing-song voice, continually wiping her lips with her hand. "The doctors say it is nerves; when she was a little girl she was scrofulous, and the doctors drove it inwards, so I think it may be due to that." They went to see the invalid. Fully grown up, big and tall, but ugly like her mother, with the same little eyes and disproportionate breadth of the lower part of the face, lying with her hair in disorder, muffled up to the chin, she made upon Korolyov at the first minute the impression of a poor, destitute creature, sheltered and cared for here out of charity, and he could hardly believe that this was the heiress of the five huge buildings. "I am the doctor come to see you," said Korolyov. "Good evening." He mentioned his name and pressed her hand, a large, cold, ugly hand; she sat up, and, evidently accustomed to doctors, let herself be sounded, without showing the least concern that her shoulders and chest were uncovered. "I have palpitations of the heart," she said, "It was so awful all night. . . . I almost died of fright! Do give me something." "I will, I will; don't worry yourself." Korolyov examined her and shrugged his shoulders. "The heart is all right," he said; "it's all going on satisfactorily; everything is in good order. Your nerves must have been playing pranks a little, but that's so common. The attack is over by now, one must suppose; lie down and go to sleep." At that moment a lamp was brought into the bed-room. The patient screwed up her eyes at the light, then suddenly put her hands to her head and broke into sobs. And the impression of a destitute, ugly creature vanished, and Korolyov no longer noticed the little eyes or the heavy development of the lower part of the face. He saw a soft, suffering expression which was intelligent and touching: she seemed to him altogether graceful, feminine, and simple; and he longed to soothe her, not with drugs, not with advice, but with simple, kindly words. Her mother put her arms round her head and hugged her. What despair, what grief was in the old woman's face! She, her mother, had reared her and brought her up, spared nothing, and devoted her whole life to having her daughter taught French, dancing, music: had engaged a dozen teachers for her; had consulted the best doctors, kept a governess. And now she could not make out the reason of these tears, why there was all this misery, she could not understand, and was bewildered; and she had a guilty, agitated, despairing expression, as though she had omitted something very important, had left something undone, had neglected to call in somebody -- and whom, she did not know. "Lizanka, you are crying again . . . again," she said, hugging her daughter to her. "My own, my darling, my child, tell me what it is! Have pity on me! Tell me." Both wept bitterly. Korolyov sat down on the side of the bed and took Liza's hand. "Come, give over; it's no use crying," he said kindly. "Why, there is nothing in the world that is worth those tears. Come, we won't cry; that's no good. . . ." And inwardly he thought: "It's high time she was married. . . ." "Our doctor at the factory gave her kalibromati," said the governess, "but I notice it only makes her worse. I should have thought that if she is given anything for the heart it ought to be drops. . . . I forget the name. . . . Convallaria, isn't it?" And there followed all sorts of details. She interrupted the doctor, preventing his speaking, and there was a look of effort on her face, as though she supposed that, as the woman of most education in the house, she was duty bound to keep up a conversation with the doctor, and on no other subject but medicine. Korolyov felt bored. "I find nothing special the matter," he said, addressing the mother as he went out of the bedroom. "If your daughter is being attended by the factory doctor, let him go on attending her. The treatment so far has been perfectly correct, and I see no reason for changing your doctor. Why change? It's such an ordinary trouble; there's nothing seriously wrong." He spoke deliberately as he put on his gloves, while Madame Lyalikov stood without moving, and looked at him with her tearful eyes. "I have half an hour to catch the ten o'clock train," he said. "I hope I am not too late." "And can't you stay?" she asked, and tears trickled down her cheeks again. "I am ashamed to trouble you, but if you would be so good. . . . For God's sake," she went on in an undertone, glancing towards the door, "do stay to-night with us! She is all I have . . . my only daughter. . . . She frightened me last night; I can't get over it. . . . Don't go away, for goodness' sake! . . ." He wanted to tell her that he had a great deal of work in Moscow, that his family were expecting him home; it was disagreeable to him to spend the evening and the whole night in a strange house quite needlessly; but he looked at her face, heaved a sigh, and began taking off his gloves without a word. All the lamps and candles were lighted in his honour in the drawing-room and the dining-room. He sat down at the piano and began turning over the music. Then he looked at the pictures on the walls, at the portraits. The pictures, oil-paintings in gold frames, were views of the Crimea -- a stormy sea with a ship, a Catholic monk with a wineglass; they were all dull, smooth daubs, with no trace of talent in them. There was not a single good-looking face among the portraits, nothing but broad cheekbones and astonished-looking eyes. Lyalikov, Liza's father, had a low forehead and a self-satisfied expression; his uniform sat like a sack on his bulky plebeian figure; on his breast was a medal and a Red Cross Badge. There was little sign of culture, and the luxury was senseless and haphazard, and was as ill fitting as that uniform. The floors irritated him with their brilliant polish, the lustres on the chandelier irritated him, and he was reminded for some reason of the story of the merchant who used to go to the baths with a medal on his neck. . . . He heard a whispering in the entry; some one was softly snoring. And suddenly from outside came harsh, abrupt, metallic sounds, such as Korolyov had never heard before, and which he did not understand now; they roused strange, unpleasant echoes in his soul. "I believe nothing would induce me to remain here to live . . ." he thought, and went back to the music-books again. "Doctor, please come to supper!" the governess called him in a low voice. He went into supper. The table was large and laid with a vast number of dishes and wines, but there were only two to supper: himself and Christina Dmitryevna. She drank Madeira, ate rapidly, and talked, looking at him through her pince-nez: "Our workpeople are very contented. We have performances at the factory every winter; the workpeople act themselves. They have lectures with a magic lantern, a splendid tea-room, and everything they want. They are very much attached to us, and when they heard that Lizanka was worse they had a service sung for her. Though they have no education, they have their feelings, too." "It looks as though you have no man in the house at all," said Korolyov. "Not one. Pyotr Nikanoritch died a year and a half ago, and left us alone. And so there are the three of us. In the summer we live here, and in winter we live in Moscow, in Polianka. I have been living with them for eleven years -- as one of the family." At supper they served sterlet, chicken rissoles, and stewed fruit; the wines were expensive French wines. "Please don't stand on ceremony, doctor," said Christina Dmitryevna, eating and wiping her mouth with her fist, and it was evident she found her life here exceedingly pleasant. "Please have some more." After supper the doctor was shown to his room, where a bed had been made up for him, but he did not feel sleepy. The room was stuffy and it smelt of paint; he put on his coat and went out. It was cool in the open air; there was already a glimmer of dawn, and all the five blocks of buildings, with their tall chimneys, barracks, and warehouses, were distinctly outlined against the damp air. As it was a holiday, they were not working, and the windows were dark, and in only one of the buildings was there a furnace burning; two windows were crimson, and fire mixed with smoke came from time to time from the chimney. Far away beyond the yard the frogs were croaking and the nightingales singing. Looking at the factory buildings and the barracks, where the workpeople were asleep, he thought again what he always thought when he saw a factory. They may have performances for the workpeople, magic lanterns, factory doctors, and improvements of all sorts, but, all the same, the workpeople he had met that day on his way from the station did not look in any way different from those he had known long ago in his childhood, before there were factory performances and improvements. As a doctor accustomed to judging correctly of chronic complaints, the radical cause of which was incomprehensible and incurable, he looked upon factories as something baffling, the cause of which also was obscure and not removable, and all the improvements in the life of the factory hands he looked upon not as superfluous, but as comparable with the treatment of incurable illnesses. "There is something baffling in it, of course . . ." he thought, looking at the crimson windows. "Fifteen hundred or two thousand workpeople are working without rest in unhealthy surroundings, making bad cotton goods, living on the verge of starvation, and only waking from this nightmare at rare intervals in the tavern; a hundred people act as overseers, and the whole life of that hundred is spent in imposing fines, in abuse, in injustice, and only two or three so-called owners enjoy the profits, though they don't work at all, and despise the wretched cotton. But what are the profits, and how do they enjoy them? Madame Lyalikov and her daughter are unhappy -- it makes one wretched to look at them; the only one who enjoys her life is Christina Dmitryevna, a stupid, middle-aged maiden lady in pince-nez. And so it appears that all these five blocks of buildings are at work, and inferior cotton is sold in the Eastern markets, simply that Christina Dmitryevna may eat sterlet and drink Madeira." Suddenly there came a strange noise, the same sound Korolyov had heard before supper. Some one was striking on a sheet of metal near one of the buildings; he struck a note, and then at once checked the vibrations, so that short, abrupt, discordant sounds were produced, rather like "Dair . . . dair . . . dair. . . ." Then there was half a minute of stillness, and from another building there came sounds equally abrupt and unpleasant, lower bass notes: "Drin . . . drin . . . drin. . ." Eleven times. Evidently it was the watchman striking the hour. Near the third building he heard: "Zhuk . . . zhuk . . . zhuk. . . ." And so near all the buildings, and then behind the barracks and beyond the gates. And in the stillness of the night it seemed as though these sounds were uttered by a monster with crimson eyes -- the devil himself, who controlled the owners and the work-people alike, and was deceiving both. Korolyov went out of the yard into the open country. "Who goes there?" some one called to him at the gates in an abrupt voice. "It's just like being in prison," he thought, and made no answer. Here the nightingales and the frogs could be heard more distinctly, and one could feel it was a night in May. From the station came the noise of a train; somewhere in the distance drowsy cocks were crowing; but, all the same, the night was still, the world was sleeping tranquilly. In a field not far from the factory there could be seen the framework of a house and heaps of building material: Korolyov sat down on the planks and went on thinking. "The only person who feels happy here is the governess, and the factory hands are working for her gratification. But that's only apparent: she is only the figurehead. The real person, for whom everything is being done, is the devil." And he thought about the devil, in whom he did not believe, and he looked round at the two windows where the fires were gleaming. It seemed to him that out of those crimson eyes the devil himself was looking at him -- that unknown force that had created the mutual relation of the strong and the weak, that coarse blunder which one could never correct. The strong must hinder the weak from living -- such was the law of Nature; but only in a newspaper article or in a school book was that intelligible and easily accepted. In the hotchpotch which was everyday life, in the tangle of trivialities out of which human relations were woven, it was no longer a law, but a logical absurdity, when the strong and the weak were both equally victims of their mutual relations, unwillingly submitting to some directing force, unknown, standing outside life, apart from man. So thought Korolyov, sitting on the planks, and little by little he was possessed by a feeling that this unknown and mysterious force was really close by and looking at him. Meanwhile the east was growing paler, time passed rapidly; when there was not a soul anywhere near, as though everything were dead, the five buildings and their chimneys against the grey background of the dawn had a peculiar look -- not the same as by day; one forgot altogether that inside there were steam motors, electricity, telephones, and kept thinking of lake-dwellings, of the Stone Age, feeling the presence of a crude, unconscious force. . . . And again there came the sound: "Dair . . . dair . . . dair . . . dair . . ." twelve times. Then there was stillness, stillness for half a minute, and at the other end of the yard there rang out. "Drin . . . drin . . . drin. . . ." "Horribly disagreeable," thought Korolyov. "Zhuk . . . zhuk . . ." there resounded from a third place, abruptly, sharply, as though with annoyance -- "Zhuk . . . zhuk. . . ." And it took four minutes to strike twelve. Then there was a hush; and again it seemed as though everything were dead. Korolyov sat a little longer, then went to the house, but sat up for a good while longer. In the adjoining rooms there was whispering, there was a sound of shuffling slippers and bare feet. "Is she having another attack?" thought Korolyov. He went out to have a look at the patient. By now it was quite light in the rooms, and a faint glimmer of sunlight, piercing through the morning mist, quivered on the floor and on the wall of the drawing-room. The door of Liza's room was open, and she was sitting in a low chair beside her bed, with her hair down, wearing a dressing-gown and wrapped in a shawl. The blinds were down on the windows. "How do you feel?" asked Korolyov. "Well, thank you." He touched her pulse, then straightened her hair, that had fallen over her forehead. "You are not asleep," he said. "It's beautiful weather outside. It's spring. The nightingales are singing, and you sit in the dark and think of something." She listened and looked into his face; her eyes were sorrowful and intelligent, and it was evident she wanted to say something to him. "Does this happen to you often?" he said. She moved her lips, and answered: "Often, I feel wretched almost every night." At that moment the watchman in the yard began striking two o'clock. They heard: "Dair . . . dair . . ." and she shuddered. "Do those knockings worry you?" he asked. "I don't know. Everything here worries me," she answered, and pondered. "Everything worries me. I hear sympathy in your voice; it seemed to me as soon as I saw you that I could tell you all about it." "Tell me, I beg you." "I want to tell you of my opinion. It seems to me that I have no illness, but that I am weary and frightened, because it is bound to be so and cannot be otherwise. Even the healthiest person can't help being uneasy if, for instance, a robber is moving about under his window. I am constantly being doctored," she went on, looking at her knees, and she gave a shy smile. "I am very grateful, of course, and I do not deny that the treatment is a benefit; but I should like to talk, not with a doctor, but with some intimate friend who would understand me and would convince me that I was right or wrong." "Have you no friends?" asked Korolyov. "I am lonely. I have a mother; I love her, but, all the same, I am lonely. That's how it happens to be. . . . Lonely people read a great deal, but say little and hear little. Life for them is mysterious; they are mystics and often see the devil where he is not. Lermontov's Tamara was lonely and she saw the devil." "Do you read a great deal?" "Yes. You see, my whole time is free from morning till night. I read by day, and by night my head is empty; instead of thoughts there are shadows in it." "Do you see anything at night?" asked Korolyov. "No, but I feel. . . ." She smiled again, raised her eyes to the doctor, and looked at him so sorrowfully, so intelligently; and it seemed to him that she trusted him, and that she wanted to speak frankly to him, and that she thought the same as he did. But she was silent, perhaps waiting for him to speak. And he knew what to say to her. It was clear to him that she needed as quickly as possible to give up the five buildings and the million if she had it -- to leave that devil that looked out at night; it was clear to him, too, that she thought so herself, and was only waiting for some one she trusted to confirm her. But he did not know how to say it. How? One is shy of asking men under sentence what they have been sentenced for; and in the same way it is awkward to ask very rich people what they want so much money for, why they make such a poor use of their wealth, why they don't give it up, even when they see in it their unhappiness; and if they begin a conversation about it themselves, it is usually embarrassing, awkward, and long. "How is one to say it?" Korolyov wondered. "And is it necessary to speak?" And he said what he meant in a roundabout way: "You in the position of a factory owner and a wealthy heiress are dissatisfied; you don't believe in your right to it; and here now you can't sleep. That, of course, is better than if you were satisfied, slept soundly, and thought everything was satisfactory. Your sleeplessness does you credit; in any case, it is a good sign. In reality, such a conversation as this between us now would have been unthinkable for our parents. At night they did not talk, but slept sound; we, our generation, sleep badly, are restless, but talk a great deal, and are always trying to settle whether we are right or not. For our children or grandchildren that question -- whether they are right or not -- will have been settled. Things will be clearer for them than for us. Life will be good in fifty years' time; it's only a pity we shall not last out till then. It would be interesting to have a peep at it." "What will our children and grandchildren do?" asked Liza. "I don't know. . . . I suppose they will throw it all up and go away." "Go where?" "Where? . . . Why, where they like," said Korolyov; and he laughed. "There are lots of places a good, intelligent person can go to." He glanced at his watch. "The sun has risen, though," he said. "It is time you were asleep. Undress and sleep soundly. Very glad to have made your acquaintance," he went on, pressing her hand. "You are a good, interesting woman. Good-night!" He went to his room and went to bed. In the morning when the carriage was brought round they all came out on to the steps to see him off. Liza, pale and exhausted, was in a white dress as though for a holiday, with a flower in her hair; she looked at him, as yesterday, sorrowfully and intelligently, smiled and talked, and all with an expression as though she wanted to tell him something special, important -- him alone. They could hear the larks trilling and the church bells pealing. The windows in the factory buildings were sparkling gaily, and, driving across the yard and afterwards along the road to the station, Korolyov thought neither of the workpeople nor of lake dwellings, nor of the devil, but thought of the time, perhaps close at hand, when life would be as bright and joyous as that still Sunday morning; and he thought how pleasant it was on such a morning in the spring to drive with three horses in a good carriage, and to bask in the sunshine.

Literature Network » Anton Chekhov » A Doctor's Visit

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good doctor essay

‘The Good Doctor’ Storylines That Need to Be Wrapped Up Before Series Ends

The Good Doctor only has four episodes left in the series. The ABC medical drama will end with Season 7 Episode 10, set to premiere in May. With the series currently on a two-week break (it returns on Tuesday, April 30 with Season 7 Episode 7), it’s time to dive into the open-ended stories that need closing in the final episodes.

Scandal ‘s Guillermo Díaz will guest star in  The Good Doctor  Season 7 Episode 7, “Faith.” Following Dr. Asher Wolke’s (Noah Galvin) funeral in Episode 6, “Faith” will see a patient of Shaun ( Freddie Highmore ) and Jordan’s ( Bria Henderson ) in dire need of a kidney transplant. When they find the perfect donor, they also discover that he believes he is Jesus, which could compromise his ability to give consent to the surgery.

Díaz plays the so-called Jesus, one of the final season’s several guest stars. Richard Schiff ‘s (Dr. Glassman) daughter, Ruby Kelley , will also guest star before the series is up, as will former cast members Antonia Thomas  and  Brandon Larracuente (the actors played Dr. Claire Brown and Dr. Daniel Perez, respectively). Larracuente will be back for one episode, and Thomas will be back for two , including the series finale. Both of these doctors had romantic ties to current main characters, Dr. Jordan Allen ( Bria Henderson ) and Dr. Jared Kalu ( Chuku Modu ).

The addition of three new recurring characters in the final season — Kayla Cromer’s Charlie, Wavyy Jonez’s Dom , and Bess Armstrong ‘s Eileen Lim — adds more narratives that need tidying up before the story ends. With such little time left in the series, each character must be serving a specific purpose to the final arcs. Here, we break down the standout storylines that need wrapping up by the series finale.

1. Shaun & Charlie’s Tense Dynamic

It seems clear that Charlie was introduced to give Shaun a full-circle moment. With both being autistic doctors, Shaun had the chance to mold Charlie like Dr. Glassman did with Shaun in previous seasons, leading to their familial bond. But Shaun has proven to be consistently overwhelmed by Charlie’s different way of learning, and that has caused irritation that’s led Shaun to lash out at Charlie. Charlie filed an HR complaint, forcing Shaun to change his ways. But will he overcome this obstacle and come out of it a better mentor to a doctor similar to himself?

Why Did [Spoiler] Die on 'The Good Doctor'?

2. dr. glassman’s personal life.

A visit from Dr. Audrey Lim’s ( Christina Chang ) mother resulted in an unexpectedly charming almost-date between Dr. Glassman and Eileen in Episode 4. Their conversation flowed so easily, Aaron felt comfortable opening up about his late daughter. Eileen returned to help her daughter in Episode 6, and TV Insider previously exclusively revealed that Armstrong will appear in a total of four episodes before the series is done. Aaron has been living solo for so long (with Shaun and Paige Spara ‘s Lea living on the same floor), we wonder if this could be a new romance for the doctor. It would certainly be lovely to see him happily in love in the series finale, giving baby Steve a new grandma!

3. Dr. Allen & Dr. Khalu’s Past Romances

We felt a vibe between Dr. Allen and Dr. Kalu in  The Good Doctor  Season 7 premiere. Jared was stubbornly judging Jordan’s decision to treat her lover, Daniel, with opioids after a car accident. That treatment resulted in him leaving to live with his family as he recovered. Jordan proudly defended her choice and made it clear she’s holding herself accountable, that Jared has no need to do that for her. He was impressed, and we’ve been theorizing they might get together ever since.

Modu previously appeared in the series from Season 1 to the Season 2 premiere, returning in a recurring capacity in Season 6. He’s a series regular in Season 7, in which his former romantic interest, Claire, will be back for two episodes. We’re keen to see if Dr. Brown and Dr. Kalu will rekindle their romance upon her return, and the same goes for Dr. Perez and Dr. Allen. But we’d wager that the former flings will love being able to catch up and reconnect but ultimately realize that their hearts lie somewhere else.

4. Steve’s Future

Fans want to know how Steve’s life will turn out. One fan theorizes that The Good Doctor series finale will feature a time jump that reveals Steve’s future as a surgeon like his father.

“I’m calling it. The end of the series will feature a time jump,” one fan wrote on Reddit . “My unqualified theory is that some random guy sees another random guy on the side of the road because his car broke down and so he helps him. Homeboy’s telling him all these car facts that he learned from his mom so he’s perfectly capable of helping him fix his car. Then he notices that the car owner has a nasty cut on his ulna and he rushes him to the hospital and when he gets there and saves the dude’s life, Shaun, who at this point is the Chief of surgery at St. Bon’s will go up to him and say, ‘Well done, Dr. Steve Murphy.'”

It would be wonderful to know what becomes of Shaun and Lea’s son. More than that, we’d love to know where Dr. Glassman and the rest of the doctors at San Jose Saint Bonaventure Hospital fit into his life. Is Steve close friends with Eden, the adopted daughter of Dr. Morgan Reznick ( Fiona Gubelmann ) and Dr. Alex Park ( Will Yun Lee )? A time jump to reveal where all of these beloved doctors and their loved ones wind up would be a heartwarming way to end this heartwarming show.

The Good Doctor , Returns, Tuesday, April 30, 10/9c, ABC

Read the latest entertainment news on TV Insider .

Freddie Highmore, Paige Spara, Richard Schiff, Will Yun Lee, and Fiona Gubelmann in 'The Good Doctor' Season 7 Episode 6

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The Moscow Trials

(march 1962).

This article was first published in Survey , No. 41, April 1962, pp. 87–95. Prepared for the MIA by Paul Flewers.

AT the twenty-second congress of the CPSU, N.S. Khrushchev once again raised the question of the “great purge”, this time in open session and with more detailed references to individual instances of Stalin’s persecution of his opponents. Khrushchev did not directly mention the three great Moscow trials, but the whole tenor of his reply to the discussion on the party programme made it clear that these trials were frame-ups. His remarks on the Kirov assassination alone were sufficient to demonstrate this, since the Kirov affair was the king-pin of the entire structure of these trials.

The assassination, 25 years ago, of Sergei Mironovich Kirov – Secretary of the Leningrad party organisation and member of the Politbureau – was the signal for the merciless repression of all Stalin’s known, suspected or potential opponents in the party. The range and thoroughness of this action was matched by the domestic and international propaganda campaign that accompanied it: for the Stalinist objective was not merely the physical destruction of all those who might conceivably constitute a rallying point for opposition within the party; not merely the creation in the USSR of an atmosphere of terror in which self-preservation should become the overriding consideration for each individual; it was also the complete moral annihilation of the leading figures of the Russian Revolution. Only Lenin would remain untouched, a great messianic figure; and by his side would rise the figure of Stalin, his sole true disciple. Consciousness of the past history of the Russian Revolution was to be erased from the mind of man and a new history was to take its place, the Stalin legend.

The campaign launched for this purpose – which may truly be termed a brain-washing campaign – was on a colossal scale. Its highlights were the three great Moscow trials in August 1936, January 1937 and March 1938, when almost the entire Bolshevik “old guard” was found guilty of organising the murder of Kirov, of wrecking, sabotage, treason, plotting the restoration of capitalism, etc. And it was precisely the defendants at these trials who, with their self-accusations, their abject penitence, their acceptance and praise of Stalin’s policies, showed themselves as eager as the Stalinists to support this campaign. Never before in history had there been a conspiracy of such dimensions, conspirators of such former eminence, and at the same time conspirators so uniformly anxious to attest the unrighteousness of their cause and the utter criminality of their actions.

At once sordid and deeply tragic, combining the grim reality of apparently normal juridical procedure with the lack of any evidence against the accused other than their own nightmarishly unreal confessions, these trials shocked the liberal conscience of the entire world. Yet it was, strangely enough, in Great Britain, a country proud of its tradition of liberal thought and action, that the most influential voices were raised in their defence.

Thus A.J. Cummings, then a political columnist of considerable standing, although admitting to some difficulty in accepting the guilt of all the accused, wrote of the first trial that “the evidence and the confessions are so circumstantial that to reject both as hocus-pocus would be to reduce the trial almost to complete unintelligibility”. (News Chronicle , 25 August 1936) The Moscow correspondent of the Observer also wrote (23 August 1936) that: “It is futile to think that the trial was staged and the charges trumped up. The government’s case against the defendants is genuine.” Sir Bernard Pares ( Spectator , 18 September 1936) likewise expressed the view that:

As to the trial generally, I was in Moscow while it was in progress and followed the daily reports in the press. Since then I have made a careful study of the verbatim report. Having done that I must give it as my considered judgement that if the report had been issued in a country (that is, other than the USSR) without any of the antecedents I have referred to, the trial would be regarded as one which could not fail to carry conviction ... The examination of the 16 accused by the State Prosecutor is a close work of dispassionate reasoning, in which, in spite of some denials and more evasions, the guilt of the accused is completely brought home.

These statements were made use of by the Anglo-Russian Parliamentary Committee in presenting to the public its summarised version of the official report (itself not verbatim) of the first Moscow trial. Its account of the second trial (compiled by W.P. and Zelda K. Coates) was introduced by Neil Maclean, MP, with a preface by the Moscow correspondent of the Daily Herald , R.T. Miller, and contained two speeches by Stalin, “in that simple and clear style of which Mr Stalin is such a master”, as Maclean put it. Maclean in his introductory foreword asserted that:

... practically every foreign correspondent present at the trial with the exception, of course, of the Japanese and German – have expressed themselves as very much impressed by the weight of evidence presented by the prosecution and the sincerity of the confessions of the accused.

In the course of his preface Miller wrote that “the prisoners appeared healthy, well-fed, well-dressed and unintimidated”; that “Mr Dudley Collard, the English barrister ... considered it perfectly sound from the legal point of view”; and that the accused “confessed because the state’s collection of evidence forced them to. No other explanation fits the facts.” [1]

Leaving aside Mr Collard, whose well-known political sympathies might explain his easy acceptance of surface appearances, it is clear that none of these commentators had the slightest understanding of the political struggle raging in the Soviet Union; a struggle of which these trials and those that had preceded them from 1928 onwards (which these gentlemen had apparently totally forgotten) were a reflection. Nor could any of them have really made a serious study of the official report. The circumstances of the time made many politically conscious people desire above all to think the best of the Soviet Government, and the views quoted above, deriving in part from this very desire, in part from sheer ignorance, were very welcome to the Stalinists. If they did not wholly convince, they at least helped to lull suspicion.

*  *  *

The most outstanding and the most influential supporter of the Stalinist campaign in the country was D.N. Pritt, an MP, a KC, and formerly president of the enquiry set up to investigate the proceedings of the Reichstag fire trial. Pritt entered the campaign with an article in the News Chronicle (27 August 1936), later reprinted in pamphlet form, The Moscow Trial was Fair (with additional material by Pat Sloan). He then expanded his analysis and argument in a booklet of 39 pages entitled The Zinoviev Trial (Gollancz, 1936). In this he first of all suggests that the bulk of the criticism of the trial emanated from the extreme right-wing opponents of the Soviet government. Still, he admits that much of it was made in good faith and came from “newspapers and individuals of very high reputation for fairness”. However, he goes on to imply that these critics had not, as he had, really studied the whole of the available evidence, but had relied upon incomplete reports. Moreover, they had not his advantage of being an eyewitness of the trial and a lawyer into the bargain. Having established in the reader’s mind that all criticism coming from sources hostile to the Soviet regime is ipso facto baseless, and having made plain his own geographical and professional superiority to the “fair-minded” critics, he argues that:

It should be realised at the outset, of course, that the critics who refuse to believe that Zinoviev and Kamenev could possibly have conspired to murder Kirov, Stalin, Voroshilov and others, even when they say themselves that they did, are in a grave logical difficulty. For if they thus dismiss the whole case for the prosecution as a “frame-up”, it follows inescapably that Stalin and a substantial number of other high officials, including presumably the judges and the prosecutor, were themselves guilty of a foul conspiracy to procure the judicial murder of Zinoviev, Kamenev and a fair number of other persons. (pp. 3–4)

The most general and important criticism of the trial, Pritt says, is that it was impossible to believe that “men should confess openly and fully to crimes of the gravity of those in question here”. (p. 5) In fact, of course, the critics” difficulty was not to believe that “men” should confess to “grave crimes”, but that these particular men should confess in that particular manner to crimes so contrary to everything known of their very public political pasts, so contrary to their known political philosophy, and so manifestly incapable of achieving their alleged objectives. For among those 16 accused there were, as Khrushchev has now obliquely reminded us, “prominent representatives of the old guard who, together with Lenin, founded “the world’s first proletarian state”. ( Report on the Programme of the CPSU , Soviet Booklet No. 81, 1961, p. 108) These were now transformed, in the words of the indictment, into “unprincipled political adventurers and assassins striving at only one thing, namely, to make their way to power even through terrorism”. ( Report of Court Proceedings: The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Centre , People’s Commissariat of Justice of the USSR, Moscow 1936, p. 18)

Pritt himself, however, does not appear to be wholly at ease about the lack of evidence adduced other than the confessions, for he suggests that the Soviet government would have preferred all or most of the accused to have pleaded not guilty, for then the “full strength of the case” would have been apparent. As it was, “all the available proof did not require to be brought forward”. (p. 9) He assumes the existence of this proof; he writes that we cannot possibly know “what further facts there were in the record that were not adduced at all”. Not, that is, whether further facts were available, but what facts.

Although there is constant mention of facts, Pritt never gets down to a consideration of verifiable factual evidence adduced in alleged corroboration of the confessions. The closest he gets to giving an example of this is when he refers to an alleged conversation between two of the accused in which “a highly incriminating phrase was used”. Each of the accused denied using it, but each said that the other had. Pritt found this highly significant. He does not explain why the accused should have shied at admitting the use of “incriminating phrases” when they had already confessed to capital crimes.

Pritt claims to have reached his conclusion on the basis of a careful study of the official report of the trial. Surely, then, he must have been aware that, when it was not simply a question of “incriminating phrases”, conversations about conversations, but of concrete facts, some very glaring discrepancies were exposed, such as, for example, the flatly contradictory evidence of two of the accused, Olberg and Holtzmann, and the alleged meeting at a non-existent hotel.

It hardly seems possible that a man of Pritt’s professional training could have failed to see that the whole structure of the confessions simply did not hang together. He did not even notice anything strange in the tale of those two desperadoes Fritz David and Bermin-Yurin, who, after spending two and a half years preparing a plan to kill Stalin at the Congress of the Communist International, decided, when it came to the point, that they could not shoot “because there were too many people”!

For Pritt “anything in the nature of forced confessions is intrinsically impossible”; it was “obvious to anyone who watched the proceedings in court that the confessions as made orally in court could not possibly have been concocted or rehearsed”; and not even the keenest critic had been able to find a false note (pp. 12–14). The picture he gives of himself is that of an utterly credulous bumpkin. Any reasonably objective student of Soviet politics must have been aware at the time that this trial and those that followed were frame-ups. It did not require Khrushchev to admit that “thousands of absolutely innocent people perished ... Many party leaders, statesmen and military leaders lost their lives”; that “they were ‘persuaded’, persuaded in certain ways, that they were German, British or some other spies. And some of them ‘confessed’.”

For the Moscow trials were all of a piece with those that had preceded them: the Shakhty trial in 1928; the Industrial Party trial in 1930; the Menshevik trial in 1931; and the Metro-Vickers trial in 1933. [2] No student of these trials would fail to see that they served a definite political purpose and that justice had been perverted to this end. The very occurrence, previous to the Moscow trials, of exactly similar confession trials – with all their “technical” failures (attempted retraction of confessions; an accused going insane; long dead men named as conspirators, etc) – should have been enough to raise doubts in the mind of the most prejudiced. But the supporters of Stalin clearly did not want to see the truth. [3]

Here, as elsewhere, it was the paramount task of the Communist Party to “sell” the trials. For this purpose, in addition to public meetings throughout the country and articles in the Daily Worker and other periodicals, a stream of pamphlets was published. The Moscow correspondent of the Daily Worker , W.D. Shepherd, wrote two pamphlets in 1936: The Truth About the Murder of Kirov (31 pages) and The Moscow Trial (15 pages). In 1937, two leading English communists, Harry Pollitt and R. Palme Dutt, wrote The Truth about Trotskyism: The Moscow Trial (36 pages), and in 1938 R. Page Arnot and Tim Buck dealt with the third trial in Fascist Agents Exposed (22 pages). Supplementing all this there were the so-called verbatim Reports of the Court Proceedings (published in English by the People’s Commissariat of Justice of the USSR), and the abridged version of the official report of the August 1936 trial, published by the Anglo-Russian Parliamentary Committee. This does not, of course, exhaust the list of published matter issued directly or indirectly by the Communist Party in defence at the trials. Party contributors to the Left Book Club publications naturally also supported the campaign. In this respect JR Campbell’s Soviet Policy and its Critics (Gollancz, 1938, 374 pages) and Soviet Democracy (Gollancz, 1937, 288 pages) by Pat Sloan, are notable.

The bulk of this material eschews any attempt at reasoning and concentrates on invective in the verbal knuckleduster style typical of the Stalinist school. Campbell’s book is a much more ambitious effort in that he admits knowledge of the Dewey Commission [4] , quotes from its proceedings, and also uses quotations from Trotsky’s writings, albeit within strict limits. Thus he quotes Trotsky’s words:

Why, then, did the accused, after 25, 30 or more years of revolutionary work, agree to take upon themselves such monstrous and degrading accusations? How did the GPU achieve this? Why did not a single one of the accused cry out openly before the court against the frame-up? Etc, etc. In the nature of the case I am not obliged to answer these questions.

Here Campbell stops and comments: “But if there is no answer then a most important element in the case of the Soviet government is upheld.” (p. 252) He does not follow the quotation further, which runs:

We could not here question Yagoda (he is now being questioned himself by Yezhov), or Yezhov, or Vyshinsky, or Stalin, or, above all, their victims, the majority of whom, indeed, have already been shot. That is why the Commission cannot fully uncover the inquisitorial technique of the Moscow trials. But the mainsprings are already apparent. ( The Case of Leon Trotsky , pp. 482–83)

A very striking illustration of the Stalinist technique – low cunning, contempt for the truth, contempt for the reader’s intelligence – is to be seen on page 213 of Campbell’s book in his quotation from Trotsky’s The Soviet Union and the Fourth International . He begins in the middle of a paragraph:

The first social shock, external or internal, may throw the atomised Soviet society into civil war. The workers, having lost control over the state and economy, may resort to mass strikes as weapons of self-defence. The discipline of the dictatorship would be broken down [5] under the onslaught of the workers and because of the pressure of economic difficulties the trusts would be forced to disrupt the planned beginnings and enter into competition with one another. The dissolution of the regime would naturally be thrown over into the army. The socialist state would collapse, giving place to the capitalist regime, or, more correctly, to capitalist chaos.

And on this, Campbell writes: “This was more than a prophecy. It was the objective of the conspirators.” The very next paragraph in Trotsky’s essay begins: “The Stalinist press, of course, will reprint our warning analysis as a counter-revolutionary prophecy, or even as the expressed ‘desire’ of the Trotskyites.”

Campbell’s book is a long diatribe against “Trotskyism” and of its 374 pages there is hardly one on which the name Trotsky does not appear. Since this was written after the third Moscow trial, he has caught up with the Soviet scenario, successively developed with each trial. The crimes of the accused are now “only a culminating point in the struggle which Trotsky and his followers have been waging against the Bolshevik party since 1903”.

One of the curiosities of this period is the book written by Maurice Edelman from the notes of a Peter Kleist, entitled GPU Justice (1938). [6] According to Edelman, Kleist was “by no means a communist”. Efforts to convey an impression of objectivity are evident. The book dispenses with the usual Stalinist bludgeoning invective and affects a dispassionate, disengaged attitude, but its phraseology and tone are unmistakably pro-Stalinist. The Soviet Union is a classless society; the GPU is simply a police force like any other (only superior, of course); it is a misconception to consider it a secret police; if you are innocent no one can make you guilty; talk of GPU torture is Polish fascist slander; he, Kleist, is treated considerately, without brutality, and, therefore, so is every other suspect. There are many little touches designed to bring out the humanity of Kleist’s captors. The Lubyanka and Butyrki prisons are depicted as rest-homes, where lengthy discussions (reproduced apparently verbatim) permit Stalinists to defend Stalin and Trotskyites to expose themselves as avowed wreckers and saboteurs in collaboration with the White Guards. The book could obviously only have been written by someone with a very clear idea of the party line, and at the same time someone anxious to appear non-partisan. The cloak of non-partisanship is worn pretty thin, however, by the author’s efforts to defend and extol, not merely “GPU justice”, but almost every aspect of Soviet life, including the forced labour camps. Finally, in an appendix, Kleist on the Moscow Trials , all pretence of impartiality is dropped. There one reads: “Why do they confess? was the typical journalistic question, and no one, except the communist papers, supplied the obvious answer: ‘Because they were guilty.’” (p. 211) In this section the stock Stalinist arguments are put forward by Kleist himself and not, as in the main narrative, through the mouths of others.

To these arguments he adds one of his very own. It gives the appearance of having been inserted to show that in spite of his total agreement with the party line, he is nevertheless by no means a communist. For he says that, the GPU having established the guilt of the accused, they were “at this point quite conceivably offered remission of the death sentence”. This, he argues, “would account for the fluency of the confession and for the calm with which the majority of the prisoners heard the sentence of death” (p. 217). Apparently, Kleist regards this kind of double-crossing as a mark of the humanity of GPU justice.

His final sentence is worth noting:

In the years which have passed since this my release , the bursting into flames of the Spanish-Fascist rebellion, the risings and intervention of the Nazis in Austria and the promise of intervention in Czechoslovakia, have convinced me that whatever bewilderment is felt outside the Soviet Union at the unearthing of these Fascist conspirators, Fascist conspiracy in conjunction with Trotskyist conspiracy does exist and that its extirpation, so far from endangering the USSR, marks another peril avoided. (p. 218)

Leaving aside the peculiar logic of this passage, attention is drawn to the words emphasised. The book was published in 1938. Kleist was released in April 1937. Thus, no “years” could have passed since his release. The reader may work out for himself the chronology of the events to which he refers, all of which he says took place after his release.

The verdict of the British press was in general unfavourable to the Moscow trials. Among the dailies the Manchester Guardian stood out as their sharpest critic. In addition to its own editorial comment, it published cables from Trotsky rebutting the evidence and attacking Stalin’s policy, earning what is probably the rarest praise ever bestowed by a revolutionary on a “bourgeois” newspaper. “I know full well”, Trotsky telegraphed from Mexico (25 January 1937), “that the Manchester Guardian will be one of the first to serve the truth and humanity.” Typical of the Manchester Guardian ’s attitude was its statement of 28 August 1936: “He [Stalin] surrounds himself with men of his own making [7] and devotes all the power of the state to removing those who, however remotely, might become rival centres of authority.”

Nothing as bluntly condemnatory as this came, however, from The Times . Indeed, in 1936 and 1937, its attitude might justly be construed as favourable to Stalin. The trials, it thought, reflected the triumph of Stalin’s “nationalist” policy over that of the revolutionary die-hards. The conservative forces, with the overwhelming support of the nation, had now demonstrably gained the day. On this single point it was curiously at one with Trotsky himself, who wrote in an article in the Sunday Express (6 March 1938) that: “From beginning to end his [Stalin’s] programme was that of the formation of a bourgeois republic.” It was only with the 1938 trial that The Times expressed doubts as to the general trend of affairs in the Soviet Union. On balance one cannot say that The Times saw very clearly in this matter. [8]

The labour press was naturally in agreement with the views expressed by the Socialist International and the International Federation of Trade Unions (Louis de Brouckère and F. Adler on behalf of the LSI, and Sir W. Citrine and Walter Schevenels on behalf of the IFTU sent telegrams of protest on the occasion of each of the trials). Writing on the second trial in Reynolds News (7 February 1937), H.N. Brailsford said that it left him “bewildered, doubtful, miserable”; pointed however to the confessions – “If they had been coerced, surely some of them ... would have blurted out the truth”; referred then to the conflict of the evidence with known facts, and concluded: “In one Judas among 12 apostles it is easy to believe. But when there are 11 Judases and only one loyal apostle, the Church is unlikely to thrive.” In the Scottish Forward , Emrys Hughes” witty, ironic articles bluntly exposed the trials as “frame-ups”.

On the other hand, however, it was the communists alone who maintained a campaign consonant with their objectives. There can be little doubt that they did finally succeed in diverting the attention of left-wing opinion and those others whom they courted from the essential issues raised by the trials, and in persuading a very large body of public opinion that Stalin’s policy was right.

In this task they received powerful support from the New Statesman and Nation , which reached an audience not in general susceptible to direct communist approach. This journal gave an exhibition of dithering evasiveness and moral obtuseness rarely displayed by a reputedly responsible publication. The 1936 trial, “if one may trust the available reports, was wholly unconvincing” (28 August 1936). At the same time:

We do not deny ... that the confessions may have contained a substance of truth. We complain because, in the absence of independent witnesses, there is no way of knowing ... When we hear that so close and trusted a friend of Stalin as Radek, is suspected ... we are compelled to wonder that there may not be more serious discontent in the Soviet Union than was generally believed.” (5 September 1936)

An article on the second trial, Will Stalin Explain? (30 January 1937), stated that “the various parts of the plot do not seem to hang together”; but the confessions could not be doubted because that would mean doubting Soviet justice; on the other hand, “to accept them as they stand is to draw a picture of a regime divided against itself”. If there was an escape from this dilemma, would Stalin please tell them what it was?

In the absence of any answer from Stalin to this complaint, the journal had to be, and apparently was, satisfied with matters as they stood. For after the verdict it asserted that: “Few would now maintain that all or any of them were completely innocent.” (6 February 1937) Reference is made to a letter from Mr Dudley Collard (the letter noted earlier in this article) and the comment made: “If he is right, we may hope that the present round-up and the forthcoming trial will mean the final liquidation of ‘Trotskyism’ in the USSR, or at least of the infamous projects to which that word is now applied.”

The third trial again demonstrated the New Statesman and Nation ’s remoteness from reality and indifference to the moral issues raised: “The Soviet trial is undoubtedly very popular in the USSR. The exposure of Yagoda ... pleases everyone and seems to explain a great deal of treachery and inefficiency in the past.” But: “the confessions remain baffling whether we regard them as true or false, and the prisoners as innocent or guilty. There has undoubtedly been much plotting in the USSR.” (12 March 1938)

True or false; innocent or guilty: one could take one’s choice – what was important was that the confessions were baffling. Even more baffling were the mental processes by which an otherwise humane and intelligent man could write in a manner at once so callous and so superficial.

This type of confusion and refusal to face facts dominated the thinking of many left-wing intellectuals and the left wing of the labour movement during the 1930s. The experience of the great Russian purge destroyed no illusions, taught them nothing. And even today it is doubtful if there is a full appreciation of the profound effect those events had on Russian society and the men who lead it.

1. A member of the Fabian Society, Mr Collard performed the same service for the second Moscow trial as Pritt had done for the first (see D. Collard, Soviet Justice and the Trial of Radek , 1937). In 1936 he sent from Moscow a long telegram of protest against the appeal for mercy addressed to the court by Adler and Citrine. Yet in the New Statesman of 6 February 1937 he stated that “English reports of previous trials induced in me certain misgivings as to the genuineness of the charges”.

2. There were 53 accused at the 1928 trial – far too many for its proper staging. Right at the beginning it was announced that one, Nekrasov, had gone mad. Two other accused tried to withdraw their confessions during the course of the trial, giving a sickening glimpse of the preliminary investigation’s “rehearsal” horrors. At the next trial, in 1930, one Osadchy was brought into court under guard to give evidence as a member of the “conspiracy”. Osadchy had been one of the state prosecutors in the 1928 trial. With each trial the staging “improved”, but in the very nature of such trials perfection was impossible. Even at their “best” they could only deceive those suffering from what Ignazio Silone called the disease of juridical cretinism. It is worth noting that at the third Moscow trial the State Prosecutor, Vyshinsky, himself called attention to the connection between all these trials. ( Report of the Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet Bloc of Rights and Trotskyists , Moscow 1938, pp. 636–37)

3. It is worth recording that Moscow University recently conferred on D.N. Pritt the honorary degree of Doctor of Law. During the ceremony Academician Ivan Petrovsky, Rector of the University, praised Pritt as an “outstanding lawyer and selfless defender of the common people”.

4. See The Case of Leon Trotsky and Not Guilty (Secker and Warburg, 1937 and 1938).

5. The original reads: “The discipline of the dictatorship would be broken. Under the ...”, etc.

6. Recommended in Philip Grierson’s Books on Soviet Russia, 1917–1942 (1943) as “sober and matter-of-fact narrative; an admirable corrective to more sensational writings” (p. 125).

7. Among them, of course, N. Khrushchev, who, speaking from the roof of Lenin’s tomb to a parade of 200,000 workers after the 1937 trial, said: “By lifting their hands against Comrade Stalin they lifted them against everything that is best in humanity, because Stalin is the hope, Stalin is the expectation, Stalin is the lighthouse of all progressive humanity. Stalin, our banner! Stalin, our will! Stalin, our victory!” ( Daily Telegraph , 1 February 1937)

8. “Stalin’s policy of nationalism has been amply vindicated. Russia has made much industrial progress, social conditions are improving.” ( The Times , 20 August 1936) “Today the Russian dictatorship stages what is evidently meant to be the most impressive and terrifying of its many exhibitions of despotic power ... The customary overture has already been played by the Soviet press ... howling for the blood of those whom it denounces, in the grimly proleptic phrase, as “this Trotskyist carrion”.” ( The Times , 2 March 1938).

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Last updated: 17 February 2023

good doctor essay

After I had drafted the essay “Moscow to the End of the Line”, a Russian literature scholar, Brian Baer, called my attention to an English translation of a biography of Doctor Zhivago ’s Italian publisher, Giangiacomo Feltrinelli ( Feltrinelli: A Story of Riches, Revolution, and Violent Death , translated by Alastair McEwan, Harcourt, 2002). The biography was written by Carlo Feltrinelli, who is the late publisher’s son and has been running the publishing company his father had founded. The passages regarding the publication of Doctor Zhivago are a defense of his father’s and the company’s behavior, and also part of the biography’s emotional objective of wrestling with a question that has troubled many a son: Was my father a good person? Therefore the information provided in the biography and the interpretations this information is brought in to advance might be considered more suspect than, say, the view of the Russian professor recalled at the beginning of the essay.

Nonetheless, herewith a few observations and bits of “information” which readers intrigued by the Zhivago story may find of interest:

• There appears to have been not one telegram, but many telegrams and letters exchanged by Pasternak and Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, as well as at least one letter from Feltrinelli to Goslitizdat, a Soviet government-run publishing agency. Pasternak and his mistress Olga Ivinskaya also had many conversations with people either directly representing Feltrinelli or in touch with him. Pasternak’s written messages appear to have been contradictory, some urging publication and others requesting that it be delayed until the book had come out in the Soviet Union or until he had time to make further revisions.

• The Feltrinelli line is that the anti-publication messages were coerced, and thus that in going ahead with publishing the original text—ignoring any negative messages as well as the lobbying of members of the Italian Communist Party and others—Giangiacomo abided by Pasternak’s true wishes. This position is backed up by quotes from various apparent communications, including these words and exclamation points from a previously unpublished November 1957 letter from Pasternak to Feltrinelli:

Dear Sir, I can find no words with which to express my gratitude. The future will reward us, you and me, for the vile humiliations we have suffered. Oh, how happy I am that [you have not] been fooled by those idiotic and brutal appeals accompanied by my signature (!), a signature all but false and counterfeit, insofar as it was extorted from me by a blend of fraud and violence. The unheard-of arrogance to wax indignant over the “violence” employed by you against my “literary freedom”, when exactly the same violence was being used against me, covertly. And that this vandalism should be disguised as concern for me, for the sacred rights of the artist! But we shall soon have an Italian Zhivago, French, English and German Zhivagos—and one day perhaps a geographically distant but Russian Zhivago! And this is a great deal, a very great deal, so let’s do our best, and what will be will be!

• Of course Carlo may have stressed the volume and contradictoriness of the exchanges, including quoting at length from possibly self-serving translations of (possibly fabricated?) telegrams and letters, in order to downplay the significance of what Carlo refers to as the “extorted telegram” of late summer 1957. In this telegram Pasternak asks that the manuscript in Feltrinelli’s possession—the one Giangiacomo went ahead and published—be returned, saying that it was a “preliminary draft requiring thorough revision.” This telegram was followed up by a stronger communication from Pasternak, dated late October, just weeks before the book hit the stands in Italy and the letter above was written. In this communication, Pasternak wrote:

Your failure to reply [to the previous telegram] makes me think that, in spurning the direct instructions of the author and in spite of his clear and express wishes, you have nonetheless decided to publish the novel. . . . Decency demands that the author’s wishes be respected. Neither I nor any other writer from my country could allow his manuscript to be published against his will. This would be a clearcut and crass infringement of the rights an artist has over his work, a violation of his will and the freedom of that which flows from his pen.

• As his father before him seems to have, Carlo relies greatly on the idea that when the relationship with Pasternak was beginning, Giangiacomo had proposed that only messages—or at least only messages from Pasternak—that were written in French would be considered valid. Thus, for instance, knowing this, Olga—confident or hoping that Feltrinelli would ignore messages in Italian or Russian—might have allowed Soviet authorities to pressure Pasternak into sending Feltrinelli negative messages in such languages. (Carlo suggests but does not say explicitly that the “extorted telegram“ was in Russian.)

• Encouraging the idea that the publication in the West of Doctor Zhivago was in fact a plot of high-ranking Soviet officials, Carlo quotes from a letter from his father to a German scholar—“the whole affair was advised to me by the Soviet Union itself”, and from a 1961 letter from Olga to Khrushchev, “it was the Central Committee [of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union] that…put us [her and Pasternak] in touch with D’Angelo”. (Sergio D’Angelo was an Italian communist bookstore manager who had come to Moscow to work on an Italo-Soviet radio program. He made the first contact with Pasternak, recommended Zhivago to Feltrinelli and acted as the principal go-between. After the book was published, D’Angelo’s good offices or cunning apparently led Pasternak to write to Feltrinelli asking that D’Angelo be paid well from out of Pasternak’s royalties. After Pasternak’s death D’Angelo sued the publishing company, unsuccessfully, claiming that in fact Pasternak had granted him half of all the royalties.)

• In general Carlo Feltrinelli’s account supports the view that history large and small is made by the wealth, status and security seeking of self-involved individuals. And thus a reader of the biography may find herself decreasingly impressed by the once-much-ballyhooed international political significance of the publication of Zhivago and by the efforts of those involved to wrap themselves in grand political and artistic causes.

• Although Pasternak and Feltrinelli used carefully picked couriers to convey their messages to one another, according to Carlo the Soviet Committee on State Security (the KGB) and the Central Committee had news even of the very first exchanges. Carlo encourages the suspicion that the informer was either D’Angelo or, as Pasternak’s family apparently thought, Olga Ivinskaya. In this regard it should be noted that the person who suffered physically as a result of the affair was Olga (that is, she was imprisoned), and that if the goals were to get Pasternak’s novel widely distributed and acclaimed, to earn various people money and Pasternak honors as well, while keeping Pasternak himself out of prison—these goals were rather well achieved, and perhaps thanks in part to some cunning “informing”.

• Some insight into Pasternak’s role or reputation might be gained from a KGB memo that Carlo cites, in which it is said that from 1946 to 1948 Pasternak had been working through contacts in the British Embassy in Moscow and his sister in London to create “for himself an aura of the ‘great poet-martyr’ unable to adapt to the reality of Soviet life”.

• It should also be pointed out that by distributing Zhivago Pasternak does not seem to have been fouling his own trough to the extent that some members of the Soviet nomenklatura claimed at the time. While, as the KGB memo also suggests, Zhivago does romanticize individualism and estrangement from Soviet life, it—or particularly David Lean’s later film version—also romanticizes Russia and the Soviet Revolution. If Zhivago on a deeper level—perhaps for this romanticism above all—remains a “blow against the revolution”, it seems hardly “a ferocious libel against the USSR” (a claim of the then Soviet Foreign Minister). In the midst of the uproar Giangiacomo wrote a letter to Goslitizdat in which, while alluding to the well-known fact that he was a member of and chief source of funds for the Italian Communist Party, he proposed:

For the Western public, the fact that this is a voice of a man alien to all political activity is a guarantee of the sincerity of his discourse, thus making him worthy of trust. Our readers cannot fail to appreciate this magnificent panorama of events from the history of the Russian people, which transcends all ideological dogmatism, nor will they overlook its importance or the positive outlook deriving from it. The conviction will thus grow that the path taken by your people has been for them a progressive one, that the history of capitalism is coming to an end, and that a new era has begun.

• Giangiacomo has been accused of trying to heighten the sense of controversy and of the political opposition to the publication of Doctor Zhivago —either to drum up interest in the book in advance of its publication or because he loved publicity and scandal. (The prototypical rich European communist, Feltrinelli—heir to one of the greatest capitalist fortunes of Europe—enjoyed hobnobbing with Fidel Castro and also expensive yachts, estates and sports cars. He died by accident or was murdered while trying to plant a bomb in a electricity tower outside of Milan.) However, it may well be that the publication of Doctor Zhivago was so contested and confused because of the dramatic and uncertain transitions then going on: the coming to power of Khrushchev and the concomitant capital punishment of the chief of the secret police, Lavrenti Beria, and the 1956 Hungarian uprising and its repression by the Soviet Army. This was one of the most uncertain and rapidly evolving periods in Soviet history, and it led not only to basic changes in Soviet policies and in the most visible leaders of the government, but also to changes in the status, influence and policies of many members of the nomenklatura . It was specific members of this class—the leader of the Union of Soviet Writers most prominently—who publicly denounced the novel and who lobbied to get Pasternak to revise the original text and to try to stop the original from being published in the West, and it was specific other members of this class—a certain cultural specialist on the Central Committee in particular—who more privately lobbied and schemed in the original draft’s favor. Khrushchev later admitted that he had never read the book, and I suspect that Feltrinelli at best read a few pages and a paid reader’s synopsis. (Carlo describes his father arranging to pick up the manuscript at a Berlin nightclub, dancing with two blondes there, and sending the manuscript off to an Italian scholar for an evaluation.)

• It seems that while the Soviet Union existed Russian writers enjoyed no copyright protection in the West. However, there was an “international” (Western) convention that stipulated that the first publisher to publish a translation of a Russian book in the West—if he published his version no later than thirty days after the book’s publication in the Soviet Union—had exclusive rights to the international market for the book (including, apparently, for editions of the book in Russian). If nothing else this was the basis on which, after the book’s publication in the West, Giangiacomo’s lawyers traveled the globe bringing suits against any others who tried to publish the book without the Feltrinelli company’s permission.

William Eaton is an award-winning journalist, novelist, and writer of philosophical essays and dialogues. Surviving the Twenty-First Century , a collection of his essays from, was published last year by Serving House Books. One of Eaton’s dialogues, The Professor of Ignorance Condemns the Airplane , was staged in New York in 2014. He is editor of Zeteo , an online journal for generalists. (updated 4/2016)

William Eaton has also published in AGNI as William Eaton Warner.


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