What Skills Are Needed to Be a Doctor?

Doctors are healthcare workers who treat and assist patients with a variety of problems. The skills needed to work as a doctor are reflected through the amount of time doctors spend in school learning about the human body; however, there are other skills important to doctors that allow them to excel in their specialty.

Skills Needed to Work as a Doctor

While doctors need a vast understanding of their craft, there are several other universal skills needed by professionals within this field. Of course, no doctor will be able to make it through medical school without rigorous study and understanding of the concepts of the human body. These skills are also needed throughout the doctor's career, as much of his or her time will be spent studying new procedures and medicines.

Scientific Skills

Doctors must be skilled in science, diagnosis and treatment. During medical school and the doctor's undergraduate career, he or she should focus on the human sciences, such as biology, human anatomy and biochemistry, all of which are necessary to understand the job requirements of being a doctor. The skills learned in these sciences are the core to understanding diagnosis and treatment, as the three are interconnected and equally important.

Diagnosing a patient involves understanding the symptoms exhibited and putting them together to understand what is wrong with the patient internally. The doctor may then treat the patient. Treatment involves providing the correct recommendations to a patient, including medicine, referral to another doctor and surgery.

Communication Skills

Other than the doctor's scientific specialty, communication may be his or her most important skill. Doctors often work all day with patients from all walks of life and ages, asking them questions about their health and reporting these findings. Doctors in the U.S. may need to be able to understand those whose first language is not English, as well as children and the elderly.

A 2006 patient study of skills a doctor needs, which was conducted by the Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Minnesota from 2001 to 2002, found that strong communication skills are among the most significant in succeeding in this career.

Patient Care Skills

According to the Mayo Clinic study, patients have different ideas of skills that make a good doctor. They include confidence, empathy, being humane, respectfulness and thoroughness. While it's important the doctor understands how to treat his or her patient and which procedures will be used, patients also want a doctor who couples this knowledge with the aforementioned personality traits.

Doctor: A Career Overview

Doctors help the sick by examining, prescribing prescription drugs and administering treatment to their patients. They also examine patients, interpret tests and counsel patients on rehabilitative, preventative and dietary care. Doctors may work in one of many specialties within the profession. These include pediatrics, gynecology, psychiatry, surgery, anesthesiology, surgery and general medicine.

Work Environment

Doctors work in many healthcare settings, such as hospitals, private offices, clinics or community healthcare facilities. Within these settings, the doctor can expect to work long, often irregular hours. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some physicians enter into private practice.

Education and Salary Information

Becoming a doctor requires a minimum of four years of medical schooling beyond completion of a bachelor's degree program. Upon graduation, the doctor may spend 3-8 years interning and in residency choosing his or her specialty. The BLS reports that in 2012, physicians working in primary care earned a median annual salary of $172,020. Those working in the podiatry specialty, as an example, earned a median income of $116,440 per year at that same time.

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