What Does It Take To Be a Good Doctor?

Dr. Sobolsky, our Director of Human Resources, was speaking quite angrily. “You still did not inform me about your decision, Dr. Brennan! Shall we appoint an assistant for you without asking your opinion..?” Yeah, if I would have time to think over it during these busy weekdays. “Let me know till Monday 11 a.m., who you want to work with, ok?” she hanged up aggressively.

I was walking along the corridor of the hospital. It is always very silent on Saturdays, especially in the morning. A Good DoctorWe do not have interns and other trainees, almost no visitors or emergency cases, so only nurses, attending physicians (like me) and other members of the staff can be seen around.

Two weeks ago I was assigned to deal with four residents, graduates of a medical school, who wanted to continue working in our hospital after their training. Those were: Brent, a small cheerful guy, Alex, slow and tall like one of those NBA dudes, and two girls, Roxanne and Audrey. I guess, I helped them learn a lot of things, and, finally, I had to choose one of them to continue practicing with me.

I definitely did not like Alex, his being too very pedantic to pointless details and insistently indifferent to important things. He brought me a bunch of recommendation letters from his professors, mentors and even fellow-students, trying to prove that he was the one who really deserved working here. Also, I would never choose Roxanne, because she was not truly enjoying what she was doing.

After some routine check-ups and talks, I was back to my room and tried to get concentrated on my two candidates. On this stage of thinking, I tended to choose Brent. He was decent, very polite, careful in decisions, and, best of all, he showed very good intuition and ease in communication with patients. Besides, I’ve learned from my personal experience that I usually collaborated better with guys.

At the same time, I did not want to give up on Audrey. She was a positive and very competent young lady, whose appearance was diffusing kindness and warmth. It is important for a doctor to encourage patients to fight the disease even with the appearance, I believe… Unable to make up my mind, I decided to go down to cafeteria. Nobody was looking for me at the moment, so I continued my considerations while having a cup of green tea.

Actually, what does it take to be a good doctor? What does it take beyond those traditional essentials, like humanism, concern for people around, responsibility, commitment to medicine, etc.? My sister used to say that it is impossible to teach being a doctor or a teacher. People have to BE BORN to be doctors and teachers. Especially good doctors…

Suddenly, a nice idea came into my mind. What if I would confront Brent and Audrey in front of my eyes? Let them talk to each other on the topics I would offer, and help me to make this decision. Having emptied the cup, I went to our reception room and asked the secretary to inform my both candidates that I wanted to see them at my room on Monday, 30 minutes earlier then usually.

On Monday, 7:30 a.m., Audrey entered my room with her usual calm smile. Brent was not around. She told me that he lived on the other side of the city and, probably, could not make it in time. Actually, he used to be late sometimes, I recalled… Chatting with Audrey, I was reading her reactions with interest.

“What would you be if not a doctor?” I asked, looking for clues for making my decision. “Um, I don’t know,” she got slightly confused. “I never asked myself this question, I did not need to… I always knew what I wanted to be.”

I remembered my sister’s words, and, at that, I totally made up my mind without waiting for Brent…

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