Desirable traits of a good (or excellent) surgeon

in Education/Medicine/Training by

What makes a good surgeon?This is a common question that comes into the mind of patients whenever they choose their surgeons or physicians to entrust their life. There are probably a hundred of these “desirable” traits but they generally fall into “categories” of surgeon attitudes and are definitely interrelated. Medical school (and residency training) attempted to make us all adept at new skills and the science behind the art of medicine, yet there are some who excel in the hearts of their patients and colleagues. Here is why .

  • According to Dr. Thomas Russell, Executive Director of the American College of Surgeons“surgeons have to be technically adept…”, able to change when needed “…and have new ways of doing things” . This means that surgeons should have wide array of technical skills and be able to adapt or tailor his expertise to the patients he’s handling or his community of practice. This is remarkably important among us Filipino surgeons, that though we lag behind in technological advances in medicine (notice the disparity between what is taught in med school and what you have in the real life practice), we should be able to innovate from what we have with our solid foundation of scientific knowledge.
  • Compassionate and love for humanity. Filipinos are known for their superior compassion and love for their patients. Our patients expects us to be compassionate every time we deal with them. Being a Filipino, its a terrible offense not to.
  • Surgeons should be approachable and not difficult to deal with. Patients and colleagues hate any surgeon who treats them like they are inferior species of human beings. It will also save you from litigations and malpractice suits.
  • I would love a surgeon who is truthful and is open minded to any questions. He should be ready to answer any question from his patients and explain to them in a manner they can understand and relate. In this age of technological advances, not one patient wanted to be treated without having to know why and how his treated and what is his chances of recovering from the surgery.

I can enumerate some more but this I think are the most important ones. A peculiar trait that Filipino patients wanted from their doctor or surgeons is their ability of a doctor or physician to “waive” partially or in whole the surgeons fee for rendering his professional service. While this trait is anchored probably on patient’s frugality, it can make or break your practice.

Dr. Remo-tito Aguilar co-founded #HealthXPh. A board certified orthopedic surgeon, he is Chief of Clinics at General Santos Medical Center and Medical Specialist II Orthopedics at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Dr. Aguilar is a healthcare social media evangelist and writes his medical musings at The Cast & Curious (