It’s recognized that doctors’ relationships with their patients can have healing effects, but the skills in this area of medical practice are understudied.

How does one recognize a “healer?”

The Annals of Internal Medicine has published the findings from interviews with 50 practitioners — both allopathic and complementary and alternative medicine — who were identified by their peers as “healers.”

Here are the 8 skills they have in common.

  • Do the little things.
  • Take time.
  • Be open and listen.
  • Find something to like, to love.
  • Remove barriers.
  • Let the patient explain.
  • Share authority.
  • Be committed.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Mastery of these skills would provide enduring improvements in patient care and reaffirm medicine’s calling as a healing profession.”

I think most healthcare professionals, whether they verbalized it or not, held these goals when they first decided to enter the healing arts.

These aren’t things “healers” learn. Not really. For “healers,” they’re the foundation that education and learning simply build upon despite the stress and strain of day-to-day practice.

For the rest of us, they are goals we approximate throughout our careers.

How strong is your foundation?

11/17/08 22:02 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.