Characteristics of a Good Psychiatrist
This time, under the title of professorship, I would like to answer the questions “How should a good psychiatrist be?” asked by the assistance of mine, by the students who are planning on starting this occupation, by brothers/sisters who wish to choose psychiatry as a field of expertise, and by the general public.
A good psychiatrist, above all else, must be an unbiased physician who gives hope. It is clear as day that a disinterested physician will not make a good psychiatrist.
The ability to listen is another significant characteristic. Curiosity and observations skills are needed to be a good listener. You have to show that you are a good listener through proper questions and comments. To be able to grasp the logic behind an event that seems to be the most insensible of all is only possible by being a good listener.
Instead of an authoritarian posture before the patient, one must be enthusiastic about making collaboration with them. Of course, it is necessary for you to tell the patient that you have the knowledge and experience needed. Otherwise, the form of the relationship will move away from the patient-physician relationship, and take a shape of a chatter, which is one of the most important problems sabotaging the process.
Empathy, in other words, being able to understand and even feel what the patient feels… This is an excellent skill. Thus, the king’s way leading to the collaboration in the treatment is opened.
Sharing information with the patient, and duly explaining everything to them are good policies to me. Each and every patient has the most natural right to know about the diagnosis, treatment and progress.
It is extremely important to protect ethical principles and boundaries.
Since the time of Hippocrates, it’s been known that a physician should take a good care of themselves. For instance, a good clothing is important to reflect a good physician identity. A balance is important in the family and social life
Then, it is a great advantage to have an excellent knowledge of pharmacology and psychotherapy. Having an extensive medical and psychiatric knowledge is also of great importance… Implementation of the evidence-based knowledge at every opportunity is even greater. Without a general medical knowledge, many clinical scenes will be overlooked. At this point, there is nothing more natural than feeling insufficient. At that moment, one should think about colleagues, who have a comprehensive knowledge of the topic, and the patient must be referred to them. It must be remembered that we are showing the patients that we are “humans”, who want to help them, not a god-like physician who knows everything. Moreover, when needed, the previous psychiatrists of the patient must be easily contacted.
It is required to fully analyze the biological, social and psychological characteristics of the patient. “How is their relationship with their family? Is there a functional support system for the moments of crisis? What is the opinion of the community they live in about the disorders? Do they have good parent-sibling relationships in their backgrounds? Do they have a history of traumas? etc. These must be fully analyzed. In short, one must firmly be attached to a bio-psycho-social model.
Negative and hostile comments of the patient, their counter-references must be expertly taken into consideration and carefully coped with. The negative attitudes of the patient must be deemed natural and taken into consideration as a part of the process, without turning them into a matter of personality. This issue is also important in terms of life safety. It is extremely wrong and dangerous to ignore the behaviors, feelings and thoughts of the patient and to make them feel like a worthless person, just because they don’t fit you.
An extremely good record system, constant measurement of the severity of the disorders and of the side effects of the drugs, and their follow-up accordingly, would naturally provide a major advantage.
Being an expert communicator, being a social individual whose opinions are valued, informing and educating the society at every chance, the ability to correct the misconceptions on psychiatric disorders, the ability to neutralize the anti-psychiatry movements, being cold-blooded, reading constantly, following the scientific developments increasing logarithmically must be the routine of a good psychiatrist.
Eventually, personal contributions to scientific developments, case reporting, letters to editors, retrospective or prospective researches and publications are of great importance. All physicians have a lot to tell!
Consequently, although it seems to be impossible to bear all these characteristics, it is a good start to set them as a target.
A final note: As a physician who has the opportunity to closely follow domestic and international developments, I would like to state that the psychiatry experts in our country have the characteristics, self-devotion, knowledge and experience to easily catch up with the world average.