All physicians have similar skill sets , but we all know that some are much better than others. Not only are they much more successful, they are able to connect better with their patients, and are often better diagnosticians as well.
What differentiates a good physician from a great physician ? What makes a doctor the doctor's doctor - the consultant everyone refers to when they are stuck ? This requires a combination of three different areas; the head, the heart and the gut.
As far as the head goes, most physicians have an adequate medical knowledge base. I am assuming that good physicians are well read, well informed and up to date. What makes the great physician different is that he doesn't use only his analytical skills to think about diagnostic possibilities. He's willing to think out of the box , especially when he comes across a patient with complex problems . He is better at diagnosing rare problems, because he thinks creatively , so that he picks up clues which other doctors miss.
He is curious and always willing to learn. As a result of this, he gets better every year because his expertise grows along with his clinical experience . He has a lot more tacit knowledge which he can tap into every time he sees someone with a difficult problem. That is why he is the doctor who other doctors will refer their patients to when they are stumped.
The great physician has a gut feel - an instinct, an ability to know that something doesn't seem right even though all the test results , labs and scanned images seem fine. This is the sixth sense which comes with a lifetime of experience , and that is why the great physician is revered and respected. He is willing to trust his intuition, because he know his unconscious will provide him with useful signals .
Finally, the great doctor also has a heart. He's willing to connect with his patients emotionally and provide them with compassionate support so that even if he can't cure them, he can always hold their hand and support them in their time of need.