How to be a good doctor

The basics!

I was given the GMC booklet on my first day of medical school, and although I’ve moved to paperless, it’s probably worth having the principles in the back of your mind.

I’ve also included the guidance on Duty of Candour which is a more recent addition

Duties of a Doctor

Knowledge, skills and performance

  • Make the care of your patient your first concern
  • Provide a good standard of practice and care
    • Keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date
    • Recognise and work within the limits of your competence

Safety and quality

  • Take prompt action if you think that patient safety, dignity or comfort is being compromised
  • Protect and promote the health of patients and the public

Communication, partnership and teamwork

  • Treat patients as individuals and respect their dignity
    • Treat patients politely and considerately
    • Respect patients’ right to confidentiality
  • Work in partnership with patients
    • Listen to, and respond to, their concerns and preferences
    • Give patients the information they want or need in a way they can understand
    • Respect patients’ right to reach decisions with you about their treatment and care
    • Support patients in caring for themselves to improve and maintain their health
  • Work with colleagues in the ways that best serve patients’ interests


Mantaining trust

  • Be honest and open and act with integrity
  • Never discriminate unfairly against patients or colleagues
  • Never abuse your patients’ trust in you or the public’s trust in the profession


Use of social media

  • Social media changes the means of communication but the standards expected do not change
    • You must be careful not to share identifiable information about patients
    • If you use social media to comment on medical issues it is good practice to identify yourself as a doctor
    • In the case of a disagreement, you should treat colleagues fairly and with respect and not bully, harass or make unsubstantiated comments


Duty of candour – guidance produced with the NMC

You should

  • Speak to a patient or those close to them as soon as possible after they realise something has gone wrong with their care
  • Apologise to the patient, explaining what happened, what can be done if they have suffered harm and what will be done to prevent someone else being harmed in the future
  • Report errors at an early stage so that lessons can be learned quickly, and patients are protected from harm in the future