Doctors can be the brightest, most dedicated and accomplished in their chosen field. But without soft skills, they are likely to never realise their full potential.

Medical school puts so much priority on building the hard skills that make great doctors and healthcare professionals.

But successful doctors have so much more in their medical bags.

Good interpersonal skills and a pleasant and disarming demeanour builds a strong rapport with patients and helps gain their confidence and trust.

Without it, patients will look elsewhere.

These same principles apply not just to dealing with patients but the peers and co-workers you associate with on a daily basis.

Here are some of the soft skills you need to develop in order to become not just a good doctor but a great one.


It’s a two-way street. Firstly, listen. Patients are much more loyal to doctors who they believe listens closely to them and cares.

Secondly, ensure your diagnosis and treatment plan is clearly understood.

Make eye contact, don’t fidget, appear distracted or do anything to suggest you are not fully attentive to their needs.


This is considered a key component of emotional intelligence, the ability to identify and manage your own emotions as well as those of others.

Empathy requires the ability to recognise and outwardly share the emotions of others.

This goes hand in hand with building trust with patients and building long term relationships with them.


A positive outlook goes a long way in a job where you are confronted with illness and disease on a daily basis.

A little humour doesn’t hurt as a circuit breaker when appropriate.

The stresses of the job can wear anyone down and that’s why a positive attitude can make such a huge difference to everyone around you.

Stress management

There are many other ways you can alleviate and ward off stress.

It’s going to be nigh impossible to worry about someone else’s health if your own is failing.

So take these steps to keep your physical and mental health at a premium:

  • Eat well and exercise regularly
  • Ensure you get enough sleep
  • Explore ways to manage your time more effectively
  • Understand that not everything is within your control

Leadership and teamwork

If you’re in charge of a team, you’ll need to formulate methods and communication strategies that give your troops confidence in you as a leader.

That means listening and sometimes taking a more democratic approach to problems.

If you think this is a weakness, read up to try to improve or consider taking a leadership course.

Doctors who collaborate well with other team members invariably achieve better outcomes for their patients.


This is your will to ensure you are the best you can possibly be.

It cannot be quantified but it is always obvious whether you have it or you don’t.

No doctor will reach the top without a strong work ethic and that encompasses but is not limited to punctuality, presentation, time management and attention to detail.


Accept that sometimes you are not going to know something or that you have made a mistake.

Admitting that rather than being defiant helps to grow trust in patients and forgiveness from them.

Continue to learn and grow and be open to criticism or challenge. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help or advice and express your gratitude when you receive it.

Apply now to work at AHA

Are you a General Practitioner looking for a new opportunity to develop personally and professionally?

There are life-changing opportunities at AHA in southern Adelaide where you can work at a practice with a great culture that helps you thrive in life.

We are located in the heart of Adelaide’s southern beaches where you can maximise your income and then unwind with all the perks the coast lifestyle has to offer.

Our purpose built state-of-the-art facilities make coming to work here a joy.

Find out more and get in touch here.