The Top Habits and Attitudes of Humanistic Physicians

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Session 101

The Top Habits and Attitudes of Humanistic Physicians

Today, we talk about the qualities and habits that really make a great physician in the eyes of the residents they teach. Specifically, we talk about the humanistic side of medicine.

Our discussion is based on an article in the September 2014 issue of Academic Medicine. The article is titled “Attitudes and Habits of Highly Humanistic Physicians” by Carol Chou, MD, Katherine Kellom, Judy Shea, PhD.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

Let’s talk about the humanistic side of medicine:

  • How the article defines humanism
  • In 2011, the authors pulled 161 residents at the University of Pennsylvania and were asked to nominate up to three attending physicians whom they believe serve as excellent role models for the humanistic care of patients
  • 74% of residents responded and invited the nominated physicians to participate in interviews
  • The general demographics: about 40 years old, 56% female, 44% male
  • A breakdown of categories between attitudes and habits
  • Viewing patients in a holistic fashion
  • Dealing with the redundancy of medicine
'If you think you know everything, you know nothing. If you think you know nothing, you know something.' - Jayce O'NealClick To Tweet

[Related episode: 16 Golden Rules of Medicine for Premeds and Beyond.]

Six sub-topics when discussing humanism in medicine:

  1. Humility – not being arrogant as the attending physician
  2. Curiosity – being a lifelong learner as a physician
  3. Standard of behavior – behaving the right way and emulating ideal behavior for a physician
  4. Importance for the patients, medically – treating the patient in a more humanistic way produces better medical results
  5. The doctor-patient relationship – the importance of knowing and understanding your patients on a deeper level
  6. Treating more than just the disease – using this opportunity to connect with your patient
Treating patients in a more humanistic way produces better medical results.Click To Tweet

The habits of humanistic physicians:

  • Actively engaging in self-reflection
  • Connecting with patients
  • Teaching and role modeling
  • Balance
  • Being intentional

Other themes mentioned:

  • The environmental support needed to sustain that humanistic side to medicine
  • Humanism as an antidote to burnout
Humanism in medicine may be an antidote to physician burnout.Click To Tweet

Some pieces of advice for premed students:

  • Think about how you can start modeling some of these attitudes and habits.
  • Start looking for these attitudes and habits in the physicians that you’re shadowing.
  • If you have some habits or attitudes that are contradictory to what’s mentioned in this article, then start thinking about those and working on them. You’ll end up happier and better for your patients.
As a premed, start thinking early about how you can model humanistic attitudes and habits in your medical career.Click To Tweet

Links and Other Resources