What is one thing that separates good doctors from great ones?

What makes a good doctor or, for that matter, a great one? Most patients want physicians who are excellent clinicians and diagnosticians. But we also want doctors who are caring, empathetic and maybe even telepathic — doctors who seem to know intuitively what we need without any awkward discussion of sensitive issues. After all, patients may not want or know how to talk about substance abuse, domestic violence, sexually transmitted disease or a host of other issues in their background that can have a profound impact on their diagnosis or treatment. Opening the door to such a conversation begins with empathy and sensitivity on the part of the physician. It’s a critical step in building...

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