J Korean Med Assoc.  2014 Feb;57(2):114-120.

Social competencies of Korean doctors

  • 1Department of Medical Education, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. kivo@ewha.ac.kr


'Social competence' is understood in behavioral science and developmental psychology to be a bundle of diverse social skills that are necessary for appropriate social adaptation. However, a physician's social competence in our healthcare context should be understood as clinically necessary skills that are not directly related to understanding of the natural sciences essential for clinical practice. In Korea, such 'non-science competencies' have long been ignored by both doctors and laypeople in their understanding of medicine as a discipline. However, the clinical practice should embrace the centrality of humane and social elements, without which medicine could not exist. Our research team has proposed 6 competencies in light of the current Korean healthcare context and circumstances: understanding of the related law and healthcare system, professionalism and ethics, leadership, self-management, communication, and understanding of the humanities. These competencies are important to current medical practice in Korea and should be developed and promoted among doctors in the present and future. Of course, these competencies are not absolutely fixed or unchangeable. They should be re-interpreted or modified as time passes and the healthcare context changes. However, for the time being, these competencies will provide some guidance for educating doctors and promoting dialogue among related stakeholders in the healthcare field.


Social competence; Korean doctors; Professionalism; Communication; Leadership

MeSH Terms

Behavioral Sciences
Delivery of Health Care
Mental Competency
Natural Science Disciplines
Self Care


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