Aptitudes Needed to Become a Doctor


It’s no secret that doctors are some of the most highly trained professionals out there — years of schooling, countless hours of advanced certifications, and even more time spent learning on the job. While entering this field is notoriously labor intensive and requires immense dedication, many may be wondering about the aptitudes needed to become a doctor. For students or even current medical professionals looking to figure which skills they might improve, it can be useful to focus on several key traits that make doctors the high-functioning professionals they are!

With medicine becoming an increasingly popular career path among college students, it’s important to help more young professionals prepare for what lies ahead. Even though only a small fraction of hopeful entrants to pre-med programs actual earn the title M.D., honing in on some of the most valuable traits to consider may help in that pursuit.

aptitudes needed to become a doctor

At the same time, doctors who have been working for years may find that refreshing themselves on the basic, almost unconscious traits they possess can be helpful as well. So let’s dive in!

Basic Aptitudes Needed to Become a Doctor

Based on some information gathered by the John Edward Fowler Foundation, researchers were able to pinpoint some specific aptitudes needed to become a doctor — or at very least, those used on the job. Of the 70 doctors who participated, all members had an M.D. degree, with their experience ranging from residency to several decades of practice.

1. Dexterity

Considering that a large portion of medical work is reliant on precision, speed, and human expertise, having a steady hand is important for all doctors beyond those in surgery. Although it can often come down to certain procedures or actions becoming second nature over time, people with high dexterity in their fingers and hands while handling sensitive equipment.

2. Structural Visualization

Since doctors often find themselves addressing multiple medical issues at a single time, the ability to think in terms of a body’s interrelated structures is a very useful skill to possess. Surgeons need to have a mental blueprint of a patient’s body well before they make the first incision. Of course, this comes from years of study and practice in many cases, it’s something that can increase one’s overall efficiency and the safety of each procedure.

3. Rhythm Memory

This is something that may seem a little intangible to those just starting out in the field, however developing a sense of rhythm memory is another one of the key aptitudes needed to become a doctor. This is essentially referring to the ability to listen to heartbeat patterns and other bodily rhythms in order to coordinate the timing of sensitive procedures. It is more or less akin to becoming tuned-in to the nuances of a certain procedure or medical condition.

4. General Memory

Of course, becoming a doctor isn’t all mock-medical scenarios and practice procedures — you’ll need to have an incredibly strong memory to really get ahead in medical school. It’s estimated that during the first year, students learn nearly 13,000 new words describing extremely specific aspects of medicine. There are few other professions that require such a significant acquisition of technical terms as those becoming doctors. Realistically, this is an aptitude that all medical students can find beneficial!

5. Foresight

This is a quality that will continually be of use throughout one’s medical career, from schooling to residency to full practice. Whether it means setting out to achieve long-term career objectives or just predicting the next steps in a set of procedures, another of the key aptitudes needed to become a doctor is foresight. Having the ability to think about what consequences or results may arise from certain procedures or prescriptions is extremely important in ultimately providing the best patient outcomes. It’s something that many will have to learn through repetition and discipline but is a huge part of any medical career. 

Realistically, it can be hard to pinpoint all of the amazing qualities that make doctors the professionals they are. Anything else that we missed? Let us know what you think should be included in the key aptitudes needed for becoming a doctor!

Author: Connor Smith

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