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What qualities should I have to be a doctor ?

I'm a high school student and I REALLY want to be a doctor someday because I want to help people. I want to give them another chance to live. The problem is , I dont think that I have most of the qualities required right now. I'm very silent and shy. I don't do sports. I'm not that brainy. Im definitely not good as a leader.But please give me some advice and help me if possible. Because I think that if I try, I can definitely develope the qualities that are needed. I want to be a doctor whom the patients can trust. I want to be a kind and compassionate doctor. I want to be an excellent doctor. I want to at least be the best doctor I can be.I want to help improve the health of people. I want to motivate patients who have given up on life. I want to inspire. So if you think I deserve a chance, please guide me. I want to start getting ready from this very instant. I am willing to sacrifice. I am willing to try. And I definitely believe that I can #doctor

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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Induni! First of all, you already have one of the biggest qualities of what it takes to be a physician and that is perseverance; the fact that you are willing to try and sacrifice is a strong testament to this. Being a physician is about hard work, discipline, responsibility and perseverance, it's about knowing what it takes to be a physician (years of schooling, experience, long hours) and putting in that effort ( I not only know this from my own current experience of being on this journey and the obstacles I faced but also from my two siblings-one is who a resident physician currently). Also yes you must grasp what is taught in classes like biology, chemistry, physics, etc., but you can have struggles as everyone does. A personal example is myself, I always struggled in math and science but with discipline and hard work I earned my place on the honor roll in high school and got As in math; I also became a tutor in Chemistry, Biology and Psychological Statistics. In subjects you have struggles in please check out Khan Academy - they are a big site for science and math related subjects- as well as reach out to your teachers and ask for after school studying hours. I would knock on my algebra teacher's door almost everyday after school and go over problems with her! With time, math was not so scary and even in college I still sought a tutor for pre-calc. and calculus, and even ended up doing well on my MCAT exam, especially since a calculator is not allowed and all calculations are by hand. My point is that you don't have to have everything on point right away, being a physician, even beginning to pursue this path in college and medical school, and even as young as a high school student, takes time. You grow as you mature through your experiences; it's okay to be shy, that could be your personality, I know people who are in medical school and who are shy because that is who they are. I think though with more experiences you can outgrow this; I would recommend to do well in your classes, obtain some experience in volunteering (it doesn't have to be medicine based as a high school student but definitely later on as a college student, obtain some volunteering with patients ), and find activities/clubs you like. It is true that medicine is leading because you lead your patient's care by making important decisions and informing them on their health as well as working with others professionals, but being a leader is really about taking action within a group or setting and that could occur through different experiences. For example, as a server there were many times I lead when we had shortages among staff and I had to take extra tables and train other servers, I had to coordinate the kitchen, my tables, and the customers who came in to be seated all together! In my job I also worked alongside with others and learned teamwork as well as effective communication with the chefs and my customers; and I think that being a server helped me prepare for medicine in many ways. I also think that is why it's important to get involved; a part-time job or a club/activity or both can definitely teach you many things. I was so scared the first time I began to work, I even spilled soup all over myself! However, with time I began to juggle many tasks and was loved by my coworkers/bosses/customers. I also think that if you are passionate to motivate your patients and help them in the best way, you are already on the steps to being a leader and are showing the trait of being a compassionate and caring physician; truthfully, it all starts with one feeling, one moment where you say I believe I can make a difference. I was also shy, scared, quiet, and struggled in my academics but everything took a change when my grandmother was diagnosed with dementia and before I knew it I was in love with medicine. Don't give up! Please let me know if you have more questions!

I truly hope this helps!
Best of luck future doctor!

Yasemin recommends the following next steps:

Check out Khanacademy.org

Thank you so so much ! I really, really appreciate your answer. You just inspired me even more . And yes, I already watch Khan academy. I love your answer and I promise that I won't let any of this information you have given or the time you have taken to write this go to waste.Again, thank you a hundred times for your answer. Best of luck in achieving your goals and dreams too. Please stay safe and thank you. Induni T.

That's excellent and you're very welcome! Stay safe as well! Yasemin G.

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John’s Answer

Communication is important in every career, but none more so than in medicine. Interacting with patients and colleagues will form a huge part of your day-to-day programme, and if you have poor communicative skills, then not only will it make your job harder, but it can also put people’s lives at risk. For example, communication is a key part of initial diagnosis. Tests and scans can confirm or rule out certain theories, but in order to understand what is going on with a patient, you need to be able to ask the right questions, read between the lines with their answers and convey to them in simple terms what your thoughts are. Likewise, you need to be able to understand what other professionals (such as nurses, paramedics or pharmacists) are telling you and give them clear directions in return. In a similar vein, the ability to display tact and sensitivity – especially with patients – is another key skill. Unfortunately, it is a harsh reality of the job that, sometimes, you are going to have to deliver bad news, either directly to patients or their close relatives. Often, it will be news that the recipient does not want to hear, and you need to have the emotional maturity to remain professional and level-headed and explain to people what the best course of action is.

From a very early part of your career, you will see things that will upset you and change you, and while you will receive all the support you need to process and deal with this, it’s a reality that some people react better than others. If you’re easily upset or shaken by things, then this isn’t necessarily a bad trait – it shows that you are compassionate, after all – but you will need to learn to manage this and ensure that it never affects your professionalism, judgement or your ability to treat. Admittedly, resilience is not so much a ‘skill’ as a ‘quality’, but it’s still possible to train yourself to be more robust; you will need to, as well, as becoming a doctor means exposing yourself to things that will undeniably have an impact on your worldview and your sensitivities. Dealing with the public isn’t easy at the best of times, but when they are stressed, sick, emotional or all three, things can turn chaotic very easily. It’s absolutely vital that you are able to remain professional at all times and not put yourself in a position where your ability to treat is compromised. When it comes to patient care, all final clinical decisions are the remit of doctors; therefore, you’re going to need to be comfortable taking responsibility and making tough calls. This means managing and overseeing patient treatment plans, as well as having to explain and justify them to relatives – this can be difficult if they are not cooperative to your ideas.

Good Luck Induni

Thank you very much for your advice sir. And yes, I understand how important communication is , especially in this career and that is why I'm developing those skills starting now. What you have mentioned is very important and I understand what you mean. And I'm working on my emotional maturity as well. Thank you for taking your time to read my question and answer it. Stay safe . Induni T.

Your welcome Induni, it was my pleasure. Remember to treat others as you would want to be treated. John Frick

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Olivia’s Answer


My name is Olivia! I am a current pharmacy student in Indiana. Pharmacists have to collaborate and work together with many types of healthcare professionals. I have had interactions with many students such as occupational therapist, respiratory therapist, nurses, med students, and physical therapists. I have learned a lot from my pharmacy classmates, professors, and other healthcare students I have had interactions with. All of these professions have a code of ethics that they have to follow. These include things such as veracity which is telling the whole truth and autonomy which is the ability to make informed decisions. You do not have to be good at sports or super outgoing to make sure you allow your patients to make informed decisions based on the truth you gave them about their condition! I think you will be great!!

Here is a good link with more information about Code of Ethics for healthcare professionals:

I hope this helps,

Thank you so so much for your answer !And yes , this is very helpful . Thank you very much and stay safe ! Induni T.

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John’s Answer

Here are some initial guidelines from the USA. Qualities are listed below.

How to Become a Physician or Surgeon

Physicians and surgeons may work in a medical specialty, such as cardiology, dermatology, pathology, or radiology.
Physicians and surgeons have demanding education and training requirements. Physicians typically need a bachelor’s degree, a degree from a medical school, which takes 4 years to complete, and, depending on their specialty, 3 to 7 years in internship and residency programs.

Most applicants to medical school have at least a bachelor's degree, and many have advanced degrees. Although no specific major is required, students usually complete undergraduate work in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and English. Students also may take courses in the humanities and social sciences. In addition, some students volunteer at local hospitals or clinics to gain experience in a healthcare setting.

Medical schools are highly competitive. Most applicants must submit transcripts, scores from the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and letters of recommendation. Schools also consider an applicant’s personality, leadership qualities, and participation in extracurricular activities. Most schools require applicants to interview with members of the admissions committee.

A few medical schools offer combined undergraduate and medical school programs that last 6 to 8 years.

Students spend most of the first 2 years of medical school in laboratories and classrooms, taking courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, psychology, medical ethics, and in the laws governing medicine. They also gain practical skills; learning to take medical histories, examine patients, and diagnose illnesses.

During their last 2 years, medical students work with patients under the supervision of experienced physicians in hospitals and clinics. Through rotations in internal medicine, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery, they gain experience in diagnosing and treating illnesses in a variety of areas.

After medical school, almost all graduates enter a residency program in their specialty of interest. A residency usually takes place in a hospital and varies in duration, generally lasting from 3 to 7 years, depending on the specialty.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
All states require physicians and surgeons to be licensed; requirements vary by state. To qualify for a license, candidates must graduate from an accredited medical school and complete residency training in their specialty.

All physicians and surgeons also must pass a standardized national licensure exam. M.D.s take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). D.O.s take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA). For specific state information about licensing, contact your state’s medical board.

Certification is not required for physicians and surgeons; however, it may increase their employment opportunities. M.D.s and D.O.s seeking board certification in a specialty may spend up to 7 years in residency training; the length of time varies with the specialty. To become board certified, candidates must complete a residency program and pass a specialty certification exam from a certifying board including the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), or the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS).

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Physicians and surgeons need to be excellent communicators. They must communicate effectively with their patients and other healthcare support staff.

Compassion. Patients who are sick or injured may be in extreme pain or distress. Physicians and surgeons must treat patients and their families with compassion and understanding.

Detail oriented. Patients must receive appropriate treatment and medications. Physicians and surgeons must accurately monitor and record various pieces of information related to patient care.

Dexterity. Physicians and surgeons may work with very precise and sometimes sharp tools, and mistakes can have serious consequences.

Leadership skills. Physicians who work in their own practice must manage a staff of other professionals.

Organizational skills. Good recordkeeping and other organizational skills are critical in both medical and business settings.

Patience. Physicians and surgeons may work for long periods with patients who need special attention. Persons who fear medical treatment may require more patience.

Physical stamina. Physicians and surgeons should be comfortable lifting or turning disabled patients, or performing other physical tasks. Surgeons may spend a great deal of time bending over patients during surgery.

Problem-solving skills. Physicians and surgeons need to evaluate patients’ symptoms and administer the appropriate treatments. They need to do this quickly if a patient’s life is threatened.

John recommends the following next steps:

You can research further at www.bls.gov/ooh

Thank you so much for your answer. Its extremely helpful. And yes, I will research further. I understand how hard it is and I will start developing these skills and qualities starting now. I understand that you must be unsure whether I can really achieve my goal but I promise that I will try my best not to let all this information go to waste. Thank you Induni T.

No concern. There is more information about all fields with easy access now than 40 years ago. This makes it easier to research and find a path. More important to have a passion for what you want to do vs. meeting all requirements perfectly. Not all doctors meet the qualities, that doesn't mean they are not good doctors. Good luck with your journey! John Oller