The most important attribute: stakeholder perspectives on what matters most in a physician
Most people can think of important attributes they believe physicians should have. The CanMEDS framework defines domains of attributes in medical training (leader, medical expert, scholar, communicator, advocate, collaborator and professional). Whether some are more valued by different stakeholders is unknown. Previous research has shown that patients can receive sub-optimal care if physician and patient expectations of a healthcare encounter differ. This study sought to identify what different stakeholders identified as the single most important attribute for a physician to possess.
A simple survey asked the question ‘what is the single most important attribute a physician should have?’ at a single academic teaching hospital and affiliated medical school. The survey was administered to medical students, doctors, nurses, patients and caregivers. Age and gender were also collected. Responses were placed into domains of response and analyzed to identify trends. The primary outcome is a descriptive analysis of the findings.
From 362 individuals who responded, 109 different responses were given. The single most common answer was ‘compassion’ (n=86). Responses were categorized to 5 domains: caring (n=209); professional/collaborator (n=58); medical expert (n=54); communicator (n=32); and other (n=9). Women chose attributes in the caring domain more frequently than men (64% v 49%), though this domain was the most popular for both genders. Medical students were less likely to highly value communication attributes.
All stakeholder group identified attributes in the caring domain as being most important. This result acts as a reminder to the healthcare profession.