Testing Treatments: Better Research for Better HealthcareBMJ 2006; 332 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.332.7556.1516 (Published 22 June 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1516
- Ike Iheanacho, editor (Ike.Iheanacho@which.co.uk)
- Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin
What characterises a great doctor? A list of required qualities might well include a wealth of clinical experience, brilliant diagnostic and other technical skills, and a wonderful bedside manner. Most people would hope for, or even expect, such features in anybody labelled as an exemplary clinician. But how many would suggest another, much less glamorous but essential marker—knowledgeable ignorance?
This oxymoronic term refers to an acute awareness of and readiness to admit personal and profession-wide uncertainties about key healthcare questions and dilemmas. It encapsulates an attitude seen in all the best doctors. These are the people who do not pretend to know all the answers. When out of their depth, they happily seek advice or assistance from colleagues. They look up drug doses rather than half remembering them. And, crucially, they are able to declare their ignorance to patients in ways that inspire respect rather than undermine trust and confidence.
One thing that typifies such professionals is their …