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The Myth of the Good Doctor

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Male doctor giving a thumbs upIntellectually, a myth is understood to be a fable or false notion. But emotionally, a myth has great appeal. It is something that people collectively want to believe. Human nature tends to dismiss reality in favor of an alluring idea. What’s more, a myth gains traction and believability when it is often told or heard frequently.

Here’s one I’m sure you’ve heard often...and perhaps believed at one time or another.

Just be a good doctor,” they told you in medical school, “and you’ll never have to worry about finding new patients.” Who needs doctor marketing? New patients will most assuredly flock to the doorstep of a good doctor.

What could be more appealing than that idea? After 11 or more years of medical education and training, a freshly minted doctor should need only to “hang out their shingle” and the professional practice will blossom. It sounds good—and it would be great if it were true—but it’s a myth. We call it the Myth of the Good Doctor.

The fact is that we know many “good doctors,” clinically excellent individuals who are widely admired and respected by their professional peers. But…they are not busy. Or they are not personally, professionally or financially as successful as they should be.

We also know of other doctors who are less well known in professional circles, and yet they are quite busy with a mix of patients and cases that they want. Their practice is personally satisfying and professionally growing.

Our point here has nothing to do with the relatively training, education or experience of one practitioner vs. another. But we do want to explode the myth that simply being a “good doctor”—no matter how good—assures success by itself. No matter how often you've heard it, recognize a myth when you hear it, and set a practical doctor marketing plan of action instead.

The reality is that doctors must market their services—consistently and professionally—in order to attract new patients, enhance their reputation and grow their bottom line. We find practitioners who recognize and dismiss the myth of the good doctor and are actively working a plan that will make a difference. And then there are the “best kept secret” providers who are still waiting to be discovered.

For related reading, see our compelling story about the street musician playing in a subway station: Why Your Excellent Clinical Skills Alone Will Not Win Out in Physician Marketing.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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