Why Curiosity Is a Virtue for Doctors

Good doctors tend to share certain qualities and virtues. They tend to be:

  • Empathetic 
  • Communicative
  • Respectful
  • Active listeners 
  • Patient 
  • Conscientious 
  • Honest
  • Optimistic 
  • Self-aware 
  • Resilient 

One overlooked quality of a good physician is competence. Physicians who are organized, punctual, and willing to use the most up-to-date technologies like appointment scheduling integrations (APIs) to provide the most efficient service possible have a leg up on physicians who aren’t. 

Another undervalued quality of a good doctor is curiosity. Indeed, curiosity is in many cases what separates a great doctor from a good one. Curiosity may not be as obvious quality as some of the others. It’s easy for a patient to tell whether a doctor is communicative, for instance, but not so easy to tell whether a doctor is genuinely curious about their health. 

Yet curiosity enables physicians to thrive in the very competitive and challenging world of medicine. In fact, curiosity is what enables professionals in most if not all highly specialized and intellectually challenging fields. 

Why Curiosity is a Virtue in Intellectually Challenging Fields

Curiosity is a virtue in demanding fields like medicine, as well as law, academia, the arts, the sciences, and therapy. It’s curiosity that enables people who work in these fields to feel passionate about the work they do and never stop learning. 

Consider therapists. A therapist who is genuinely curious about their patients will naturally listen better, empathize more deeply, and ask more insightful questions than a therapist who is not. That’s not all, however: a curious therapist will instill more trust in their patients than an uninterested one. 

Or consider the importance of curiosity for academics. An English professor who never stops learning about not only their own discipline of choice but also other disciplines outside of it—like foreign languages, sociology, and even physics and medicine—is more likely to produce more compelling and insightful work than an English professor who isn’t curious. They are also more likely to enjoy the work they do. 

Curiosity is a Virtue for Doctors 

Doctors, like therapists, must be genuinely curious about their patients to provide top-notch care; and, like academics, curious about their discipline to contribute to their field. Doctors who let their curiosity get the better of them are better than doctors who don’t.  

Doctors must be curious in order to: 

  • Empathize and build trust with their patients
  • Understand their patients’ personal experiences with illness and health
  • Support clinical reasoning

Doctors must also be curious to be more flexible about their career paths, which is essential in today’s fast-paced world. 

Curiosity Breeds Career Flexibility

Medicine is an ever-evolving field. Doctors who start out specializing in one field often end up a decade or so later specializing in another. As a result, doctors must be flexible in their career paths and keep up with the times. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, many doctors switched to working as medical virtualists: medical professionals who specialize in keeping as many patients away from hospitals and physician offices as possible. 

For doctors to be flexible in their career paths, they need to be curious about all things medical. They need to never stop questioning and seeking answers to their questions. As Albert Einstein once said, “The important thing is to not stop questioning.” 

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