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Seven habits of effective doctors

The President of the Royal Society of Medicine, Professor Roger Kirby, has suggested seven habits that doctors should adopt to excel in their role.

In his article in Trends in Urology and Men’s Health, ‘Seven habits of effective doctors’, Professor Kirby considers important lessons that could benefit clinicians.

He said: “Life as a clinician has never been more challenging. Developing and maintaining good habits can be an effective tool not only to sustain a career but also to enhance one's professional skill and application to the benefit of all.”

Professor Kirby’s tips for doctors are to:

1. Be proactive

“Rather than fall into the trap of becoming bogged down with the routine of clinical work, it is important to be a self-starter who creates new achievable initiatives that have a measurable impact on the working of the unit, and which directly lead to improved patient care.”

2. Begin with the end in mind

"Remember the ancient saying that ‘trust arrives on foot but leaves on a horse’. Once trust is lost it is difficult, indeed often impossible, to rebuild it.”

3. Put first things first

“It is crucial to distinguish what is important from that which is urgent.”

4. Think win-win

“In patient care, a good outcome will benefit the clinician emotionally, as well as the patient physically.”

5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood

"Listen carefully to your patients without interrupting them and try to understand where your colleagues, friends and family are coming from before you try to impose your own opinions on them.”

6. Synergise

“Leadership in medicine frequently involves leading by example and persuasion, as the stick and carrot approach of bonuses and dismissal are not readily available in the NHS.”

7. Sharpen the saw

“A desire for continuous personal improvement is an important component of success.”

Read Professor Kirby’s ‘Seven habits of effective doctors’.

The advice is adapted from Stephen Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide.

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