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5 Non-Clinical Competencies That The Most Successful Doctors Have

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Doctors and healthcare professionals are most often encouraged to focus on the technical skills pertinent to their occupation. However, seldom overlooked are the non-clinical competencies, a differentiator and key to the success of a physician or any healthcare institution.

Non-clinical skills are the attitudes, habits, and qualities that make a physician a well-rounded professional. There are certain non-clinical competencies for physicians in the healthcare setting that can help them serve their patients better and make an unenviable and uncomfortable situation easier.

Table Of Contents:

This article will help you discover the non-clinical competencies a physician must-have.

1. Professionalism

While healthcare is considered by most to be a noble and demanding field, a doctor is no exception and should be professional in every encounter. A doctor should remain polite, attentive, courteous, and well presented.

Like any other job, you may receive complaints and be reprimanded for being unprofessional to your patients and other staff members. Thus, it is important to maintain a dignified demeanor while at work.

As doctors, you may also find people respecting you even outside of work. So, maintaining your professionalism while in public will keep your social media relatively clean.

2. Interpersonal and Communication Skills

A physician should have good communication skills to clearly and concisely exchange information with patients, families, support groups, and staff members. Effective medical communication must be two-way – the ability to accurately receive information and convey the information to other team members.

Doctors may also come across patients with language barriers, neurodegenerative problems, or patients who are not willing to disclose information. Physicians need to learn to extract and impart information to these patients. Learning these skills will allow you to adapt to the various types of people, help you find alternative ways for successful communication, and help you disseminate any potential problems.

Interpersonal and communication skills are often a combination of verbal and nonverbal interactions. Developing these skills can help physicians to effectively exchange information throughout the treatment process comprehensively, appropriately, and timely. Excellent communication skills will help build a better doctor-patient relationship.

3. Practice-Based Learning Ability

Practice-based learning is what the doctors learn through their clinical practice, and practicing medicine is full of learning opportunities. Physicians can reflect and learn from their experiences through portfolios and self-assessments.

Furthermore, developing evidence-based skills is another essential component. While caring for patients, doctors must learn to locate, appraise, and assimilate information from medical literature related to the patients’ health problems to arrive at proper diagnosis and treatment plans.

Physicians will be able to make quality improvements through gained knowledge or skills in their medical practice and the hospital system to improve outcomes. They can also use technology to optimize learning and healthcare delivery.

Physicians with practice-based learning improve patient care based on constant self-assessment and lifelong learning.

4. Systems-Based Thinking

Practicing medicine is much more than the interaction between the physicians and the patient. Physicians must understand all the components of the healthcare system – from the emergency department to primary care facility, from the patient’s family to community organizations – and earnestly think how all these moving elements can be put together to improve patients’ health, meet health care needs, and anticipate and palliate safety threats or other problems.

Systems thinking helps provide better patient and population-centered care, fosters clinical problem-solving and encourages questioning. For example, a physician who is discharging a patient from a hospital stay helps the patient by ensuring the patient has support in place to follow the care plan, consulting with the patient’s nurse care manager, and contacting the patient’s primary care physician to provide a copy of the discharge plan.

Physicians are required to provide safe and effective healthcare and enable themselves as effective practitioners within various medical practices and delivery models to provide optimal health care.

5. Change Management Skills

A physician may also be designated to lead care teams, departments, or an entire facility. The designated physician must be able to give the team members the support and motivation to ensure everyone is giving their best to reach a shared goal.

Taking a more democratic approach to leadership encourages discussions and feedback. Building trust is one of the key constituents of change management, and the more you try to involve the members of your team, the more they will be willing to adopt.

Importance Of Non-Clinical Competencies For Doctors

The healthcare landscape is quickly evolving, so is the physician’s role. At present, physicians are required to deal with patients with chronic and critical illnesses, improve patient and staff satisfaction, handle practices and collaborate with other healthcare professionals.

Research indicates that rapid changes in healthcare make the non-clinical skills more important than the clinical expertise to take the career to the next level. Physicians with well-developed skills tend to build better relationships with their patients and staff, enhancing the flow of information and contributing to better results.

The medical school primarily focuses on building and nurturing technical skills essential to becoming a good doctor. However, developing collaboration and leadership skills will help build a successful career as a doctor.

It doesn’t matter how skilled or smart a doctor is. Every skill acquisition demands emotional, financial, and time commitment. If a physician cannot establish a good rapport with the people they work with and interact with daily, patient care will be compromised. Patients are much more loyal to doctors who listen to them and care.

How To Learn Or Improve Your Level Of Competency

You can acquire knowledge, but skills need to be learned or improved. Knowing how to grow and develop a skill is a skill in itself. Therefore, if you understand the working principles of learning, it will be easier for you to learn any new skill.

You can enhance your competency by attending seminars, classes, and training, learning from the people around you, taking new talents, and improving existing ones.

Follow these proven guidelines to help you build your competence:

  • Organize your time, work, and materials.  Plan and prioritize your work so that you can complete them easily and quickly. A well-organized person will be able to meet deadlines and collaborate effectively with others.
  • Be an active listener.  Paying attention is an essential part of good communication. To learn or improve on a skill, you must focus on what others are saying and feeling. You may also share your ideas. A good communicator will speak clearly and confidently, with a positive tone appropriate for the situation.
  • Collaborate with others.  Learning through discussion groups and from your network can be an effective way to reflect and enhance your knowledge and professional expertise.
  • Consider every situation an opportunity.  Be a professional opportunist. When you are dealing with a problem, assess your options and determine the best solution. Research different scenarios you come across and seek advice when necessary. People who can think seriously and work through complex problems are more likely to make good decisions both in life and work.
  • Constantly improve and develop yourself.  Stay motivated to learn from your mistakes and failures. Never give up. Identify your weaknesses and turn them into your strengths. Take advantage of technology and enhance your skills.

Enhancing competencies is quite challenging. Gaining knowledge and skills with a positive attitude to perform tasks effectively and sufficiently will deepen your competencies.


Successful physicians who master the skills will offer effective patient-centered care in a compassionate and developmentally appropriate way. At the same time, a physician may establish a symbiotic environment between patient and provider, which will promote health and well-being.

Understanding and improving competency skills can help you grow both personally and professionally and maximize your potential to achieve your goals and values.

2 thoughts on “5 Non-Clinical Competencies That The Most Successful Doctors Have”

  1. Excellent summary of what’s needed and how to get it for the issue at hand.

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