Physicians traditionally learn professional skills from other physicians. And there is also much to be gained from paying attention to the professional qualities of non-physician colleagues.

Formal medical education focuses on the diagnosis, management and documentation of patient care. It is important to keep in mind that there are also other fundamentals that can help you immensely in your medical career. Colleagues who are not physicians often exemplify many of these valuable professional traits.


Physicians must learn how to quickly relay vital information to accelerate patient care. But sometimes work-related communication requires softer edges.

Non-physician professionals, especially those who have risen to leadership positions, generally communicate in a polite, effective, clear and concise manner.

The language used by non-physicians who are good at effective communication is often deliberately designed to blend confidence with a non-threatening tone and to avoid vague statements that could be misunderstood.

If you are a physician interested in eventually achieving a more powerful position in your work, it may pay off to read and reread effective correspondence and listen carefully to good communicators, noting which approaches you have found most effective or that you admire. these methods can therefore be part of your own communication toolbox.

Accept responsibility

Accountability is an important part of clinical practice. And professionals who do not provide patient care usually do not carry that heavy burden on their heads.

The less malicious environment contributes to the fact that non-medical professionals, even in healthcare, typically do not focus on blame or vigilantly guard against blame.

The calmer acceptance of responsibility that is a common part of non-physician professional interactions can be a refreshing relief. Seeking non-defensive work interactions can help make your day-to-day work as a doctor more enjoyable.

And absorbing this harmonious attitude is important for situations that can be most effective when performed with kindness and gentleness, such as teaching students and residents.

Thinking broadly

Doctors always have a number one priority: safe and effective patient care. Yet when it comes to negotiating a schedule or reimbursement, doctors often only consider the top priorities to get the best reimbursement and schedule.

Non-physicians often enter negotiations with the understanding that something must be gained from the agreement. Physicians can learn from this perspective and gain substantial benefit from examining the perspectives of others.

It’s not a bad thing to consider many factors when taking care of yourself.

For example, if you are asked to cover a clinic in a different location once a week, you need to understand exactly what everyone else involved in the case is going to lose or gain from the whole process – and what only then can you position yourself to deliver enough value to get what you want from the service you provide.

Team work

Healthcare professionals who are not physicians often model teamwork very well. Part of this process includes giving and receiving constructive feedback and praise and acting on the feedback as a learning process.

Even people who are able to do many different parts of a project may be willing to share tasks with others to achieve a better result than would have been possible with the work of one person.

This ability to be part of an anonymous team without necessarily taking credit for the outcome can help build camaraderie in a way that builds long-term trust among colleagues.

Physicians work in intense environments and are the decision makers when it comes to interactions with patients. Learning from other doctors is an invaluable privilege.

Sometimes a physician can also adopt valuable professional skills from non-physicians that can increase a physician’s ability to rise through the professional ranks.

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