More and more doctors these days recognise they have transferable skills, allowing them to excel in a promoted position or a different industry. But what these transferable skills actually are can often escape a doctor. This is significant, because if you do not know what makes you qualified for a new role, how can you successfully claim it? By understanding these transferable skills, new opportunities for personal and professional development will become more obvious

1) Problem solving

Treating patients is in essence problem solving; a patient comes with a problem, and a doctor solves it to the best of their ability. The solution isn’t always obvious, especially if you are trying to solve the wrong problem, eg “Doctor, I have chest pain” could be a heart attack, it could also be a spicy curry repeating on you.

Loads of jobs involve problem solving, most industries just call it work though. “We need a new website”. “Update our gender equality policy”. “Sell more tickets to our upcoming event”. These are all “problems” that require a solution. Doctors are great at finding out what people are going through and then doing their best to make them feel better.

2) Team leadership

Doctors may not feel they are demonstrating team leadership skills, but whenever they are directing a ward round or setting up a treatment plan for a patient that involves 2 or more colleagues does exactly that.

3) Communication

Patients come from all walks of life. Then there are their friends and relatives, as well as a large variety of clinical and non clinical staff too. Doctors have to know to build rapport with these people quickly in order to do their job properly. This can be really hard with certain personality combinations, but clinicians are always driven to do what is best, and will resist letting a personality clash stop them from communicating well.

4) Organisational

It’s not uncommon for a doctor to have a huge job list and for each job to be almost of equal importance. Yet still the prioritise and get everything done (almost every time). For example, a junior doctor could have just taken over to do the night shift on a medical ward. They may have to see three new admission, chase the blood results of another five patients, put in a new cannula for a patient with “difficult veins”and have to rewrite a couple of drug charts. Now that’s just the jobs they’ve been told at the start of their shift! There will be plenty more as the minutes, let alone hours go by. Solving some of the problems mentioned earlier in this article don’t seem so bad after all…

5) Emotional resilience

Doctors hear and face some really difficult situations. Death is the obvious one, as well as giving bad news. But then there are all the terrible stories patients and colleagues share too. Everyone hears bad news, but doctors often have to deal with strong emotions daily. Being able to do that all the time should make you emotionally resilient if you continue working as a doctor. It’s worth mentioning though that this resilience is strengthened if you don’t bottle up your feelings, and instead share your stories with others.

6) Compassion

Following on from emotional resilience, compassion in doctors is really important as it is often a strong motivator to help others. If you are compassionate about people and get to help others through your profession, you are more likely to be loyal to that profession and do a great job.

7) Integrity

There are many ruthless people in business, but without integrity, it’s very hard to build trust and rapport. Healthy relationships is necessary when working with others, and being known for being honest and trustworthy will ensure that happens

8) Discipline

The art of medicine is a discipline. The degree takes at least five years of university study, for some, it can be seven. Then there are the years of service you have to go through in order to become competent. That doesn’t happen overnight, but if you can be disciplined enough to get into medical school let alone through it, you must be able to be disciplined on something else too.

9) Focus

Employers and customers alike love it when you can do everything. Yet rarely will one forgo a focused and determined person for someone who is all over the place. Being unpredictable or worse, predictably unpredictable may be desirable in romance for some, but it’s not good in the workplace or for customers. Even if you are creative, you will still have a style that defines you. Focus is good!

10) Resourceful

Generally a doctor is armed with a stethoscope when they start their shift. They find a pen, lose it, then find two more. If they can’t get through to the reg on call, they’ll speak to a clinical colleague they know. If they arrive in a new environment and don’t’ know anyone, they quickly get all the information they need to be self sufficient. All this in the pursuit of doing a great job for their patients.

So remember, you are not just a doctor!

I’ve demonstrated problem solving, team leadership, communication and organisational skills.

I’m emotionally resilient, compassionate and have integrity.

I’m disciplined, focused, and capable of getting the job done no matter what.

I’ve endured what many others cannot and will not.

I’m not just a Dr

I’m > a Dr.


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