NHS Careers > Explore by career > Doctors > Skills required


Skills required

It is as important for doctors to be able to communicate well with patients, carers and colleagues, as it is to sew up a wound or read an X-ray.

There is no single set of characteristics that makes a good doctor. Medicine includes a wide range of people, working in very varied roles. As in any strong team, it needs players with different aptitudes that complement each other.

Comments from doctors and students suggest that these are some personal qualities you may need to draw on. You don't necessarily need them all, but do you recognise something of yourself here?

  • A concern for people

    Do you care about the people around you and what happens to them?

  • An enquiring mind

    Do you always want to find out more about things that interest you? And do you analyse and update the knowledge you already have?

  • An interest in people

    Are you curious about how other people think and feel? Do you generally like other people and take an interest in what they say and do?

  • A rational approach

    Are you keen to establish facts, test ideas and find out how things work and why they go wrong? Do you approach problems in a logical way?

  • An open mind

    Do you get along well with people whose attitudes and background are very different from yours? Can you see things from other people's point of view?

  • Imagination

    Can you see around problems to find new solutions? Do people look to you for ideas?

  • Ability to handle pressure

    How have you coped with pressure situations such as the build-up to exams? Does it affect your behaviour significantly or can you handle it?

  • Hard work

    Can you cope with hard work over sustained periods?

  • Patience

    Do you get impatient with other people easily, or are you willing to go along at their pace?

  • Determination

    If something doesn't come right first time, do you give time and effort to sorting it out?

  • Decisiveness

    Do you make decisions with a fair degree of confidence, based on what you know?

  • Humility

    Are you comfortable with recognising the limits of your ability and knowledge, and willing to look to others for help?