8 traits of the best physicians: AMA

When training to be the best physician they can be, residents should aim for what is called system citizenship, according to a Feb 5. article on the American Medical Association website.

The concept of "system citizenship" can be defined as having the critical thinking skills and mindset to contribute to the holistic needs of individual patients, populations of patients and health systems as a whole to achieve the best outcomes, according to Ami DeWaters, MD, a hospitalist and professor at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey. 

Dr. DeWaters said the first step toward embodying what it means to be a "system citizen" is self-awareness. 

"You can learn how to question yourself and approach a situation in a more intellectually humble manner by doing things like asking, 'How would a colleague in a different field approach this case?'" Dr. DeWaters said in the article. "What assumptions am I making that I should challenge right now?"

Here are the eight characteristics of standout system citizens, according to Dr. DeWaters and a team of co-authors:

1. Generosity, selflessness, humility, adaptability and resoluteness.

2. They embody values that drive behaviors "above and beyond" colleagues' expectations.

3. They are intentional about and great at working in teams.

4. They are calm under pressure. 

5. They use creative thinking skills to solve problems.

6. They have excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

7. They teach systems-based practice as part of clinical care.

8. They identify personal and professional mentors that are key to their development.

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