What makes a doctor good?
ABC-TV is betting that it's the image and likeness of the lead character in its smash hit series, "The Good Doctor." So far, the network seems to have nailed America's ideal of the perfect physician, boasting 33 million viewers for the drama series in this young fall season.
British actor, Freddie Highmore, channels the endearing childlike personality of the fictional surgical resident, Shaun Murphy. The youthful character is autistic and has Savant syndrome. His messianic healing talents include the uncanny ability to quickly diagnosis diseases and conditions as he visualizes human anatomy in the virtual imaging chamber of his mind. The 3D, anatomical graphics dazzle viewers as Dr. Murphy remarkably perceives the seriousness of rare circumstances and seems to detect what is undetectable to even the most savvy and experienced surgeons at his hospital.
Murphy's "disabilities" make him eccentric and give the young doctor a laser-like obsession with human anatomy and its miraculous inner workings. But there is more to Dr. Murphy's allure than his abnormal brilliance. Like a child he is disarmingly genuine. He tells the truth, sometimes brutally to both colleagues and patients. He's humbly saintlike, free of ego and even the need to claim credit for his insights and ingenuity.
Dr. Murphy tells his boss, "You're arrogant. Do you think that makes you a better surgeon?"
He reveals a terminal diagnosis in front of an unsuspecting patient, "She has a sarcoma." Later he identifies the unorthodox strategy to remove one of her healthy kidneys, clearing a path for surgeons to cut out the tumor around her heart. The unconventional idea saves the woman's life.
The same good doctor tells a hypochondriac, "People can die of a heart attack at any time."
There is something beautiful and innocent about this character. So honest and yet so caring. Personally, he reminds me of Jesus.
Dr. Murphy is in tune with his patients and their concerns and not afraid to tell them the truth, with compassion.
More than anything, I think that's what makes a good doctor.