4 virtues for a great physician  


The first measure of a great physician is excellence. Physicians need to have medical knowledge that can be recalled at a moment’s notice. Excellence should include the accuracy of diagnostic methods, the appropriateness of approach, and the effectiveness of proven clinical decision-making principles.


A great physician enters this profession with a love for humanity. Individual doctors serve their patients by assessing, diagnosing and treating patients, and through rehabilitation and habilitation, palliation, health promotion, and disease prevention. However, medicine is more than procedures and physicians are more than purveyors of technology. Compassion is fundamental to the relationship between the patient and the doctor. Compassion is one of the most important attributes of a successful doctor. Patients often experience anxiety and stress along with their pain or illness, and need to feel that their practitioner is empathetic to their issues and dedicated to creating the best outcome.


The practice of honesty is a core value of the modern physician. A great physician is honest with patients and informs them completely and honestly including the injury from medical care. Not telling the truth in the doctor-patient relationship requires special attention because patients today, more than ever, experience serious harm if they are lied to. Not only is patient autonomy undermined but patients who are not told the truth about an intervention experience a loss of that all important trust which is required for healing. Honesty matters to patients. They need it because they are ill, vulnerable, and burdened with pressing questions which require truthful answers.


A great physician never works alone. Modern healthcare is based on teamwork. Loyalty represents friendship, support, and guidance. It represents the development of solidarity among physicians as a category. It represents respect for his mentors and teachers and the carrying of their messages and teachings to future generations.