Bad Doctor, Good Doctor, Bad for Doctor

Here it is, my first post! This should have been posted yesterday at 3/21/2016… but for some reason my plugin to crosspost to Twitter and Facebook didn’t work. My apologies. Mistakes were made. 

But anyways…

I’ve gone through medical school, internship, residency, and fellowship. All in all, I’ve had about 10 years of being around doctors-to-be, residents, and attendings. From my experience, I am about to make a sweeping generalization. I think there are 3 main types of doctors. Yes, only three. Before you close the blog window and move on with your life, please hear me out.

The three types of doctors are listed in the title of this post: “Bad Doctor”, “Good Doctor”, “Bad for Doctor”.

I will go over each of these now and try my best or provide examples. I am pretty confident that any doctor you meet will fall into these categories.

Bad Doctor

This category might seem simple to most, but it is actually the most complex. There are a lot of variations of bad doctors:

An easy “bad doctor” to understand is one that is simply dangerous to patients and other doctors. For example, the doctor who practices outside his scope of expertise is dangerous. This doctor could potentially injure patients, himself, or other physicians with their arrogance. Another example would be someone who simply has not kept up with their continuing medical education and continues to practice medicine as if it was the same 20-30 years ago, ignorant to any advancements in medicine. As a doctor, you owe it to yourself and your patients to try to keep up with the newest treatments and strategies to continue to better yourself and your practice of medicine.

Medicine continues to evolve… and we must evolve with it.

Probably the easiest “bad doctor” to understand is what I would call the honey badger. He/she just doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter what their patients or colleagues say… they just don’t care. Surprisingly enough, they usually don’t provide poor care to their patients. These doctors do still have a conscience and therefore provide adequate care... it just isn’t GOOD.  In reality, they know and everyone else knows they could do a much better job.

Good Doctor

A good doctor is pretty easy to spot. They listen to you, empathize with you, and genuinely try to help you. That’s really all there is to it. This has nothing to do with how they look, their accent, or if they are wearing a white coat or not. A good doctor will try their best to help you whether they like you or not.

Despite the endless paperwork and red tape to try get you the best possible care, good doctors honestly do try their best for you regardless of what insurance or upper/mid management tell them to do.

That said, genuinely helping you doesn’t mean they do everything you want them to do. If you go to a doctor and tell them what you want them to do FOR YOU, then why even see a doctor?

Most doctors are good doctors. -FULL STOP- It would be insane to go through the amount of education and indentured servitude we go through to slog through life as a bad doctor.

To go into more depth, a good doctor also has a good work-life balance. Part of being a doctor is also “not being a doctor” meaning making time for other things, like hobbies, family, staying in shape, whatever interests you. There is a limit, and sometimes I think it is hard for the really good doctors to find it… which segues into:

Bad for Doctor

I would like to think of myself as good doctor. Putting the patient first has always been my mantra. I work long shifts and I do extra work and overtime without extra pay if I really think someone needs my help. However, I am only human. No matter what you do, you can not be at the hospital 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year… although you neurosurgery guys certainly try to!

Everyone knows this doctor. (For the sake of ease this hypothetical doctor will be a “he”)

Everyone knows his name. Oh, there goes Dr. Smith again. Is he still here? Isn’t it his day off? Wasn’t it his kid’s soccer game today?

You know him and you love him. The nurses know him and love him. The ancillary staff know him and love him. Do you see the trend? He knows everyone by their first name and picks up his cell phone at the first ring. He’s always available and never takes vacation. This hospital is his life.

This. Hospital. Is. His. Life.

That’s bad for him. Even if you love medicine, love everyone at the hospital, and everyone at the hospital loves you. No matter what you do, you will never be able to do everything all the time. But these doctors try and they try oh-so-hard. And it’s futile. Every problem is stressful, every terminal illness diagnosis hurts, and every death hurts. It’s a Big Hungry Monster. The problem is no one sees it as a problem until it’s too late.

There are a unique subset of you that can handle this. These Supermen and Superwomen who have sacrificed everything for the hospital and who’s sole purpose in life is to the feed the Big Hungry Monster known as medicine.

I salute you. But I could never be you, and I would venture to say most of us can’t be.


Bad doctors are either dangerous (arrogant or ignorant) or honey badgers.

Good doctors are the majority of us out there… people who genuinely try to help people to the best of our ability, despite the never-ending paperwork and both the upper and middle management trying to curtail us from our goal of good medicine.

Bad for doctor is a reference to a doctor who devotes his/her life to medicine and medicine alone as a noble sacrifice to the Big Hungry Monster.



Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.

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This post is not an attack on the professionalism of doctors and should not be taken as such. I would say the majority of doctors are in the “good doctor” category, with a significantly smaller “bad for doctor” category, and a small minority in the “bad doctor” category. That said, if anything I said here offends you…  well then perhaps you need to do some introspection.

The main point of this post is for my fellow doctors in the “bad for doctor” category to slow down a little and make some time for themselves.

Your patients will benefit from your excellent care much more if you are happier and live longer.

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