Unit 4 PSY 533: Which Doctor would you choose?

Which Dr. would you choose?

Imagine your loved one has been brought to the emergency department as a result of a car accident.  The severity of her injuries include several broken bones, and internal injuries requiring surgical repair.  You have the choice between two surgeons and have a limited amount of time to decide.  You are an employee of the hospital, and have the advantage of being familiar with both surgeons.  You are aware of their surgical skills as well as their individual personalities.   Which would you choose?

One surgeon has tremendous skills as a surgeon; his patient outcomes related to severity of injury scores were the highest in the state.  If you are his patient, he manages your care like an army sergeant.  He is demanding and would be considered high in neuroticism; in other words, he is tense, impulsive, and his mood is unpredictable (PSY533, 2017).  He is assertive at the bedside, making clear his expectations, however, he tends to be socially awkward and more introverted when not interacting with the team.  The staff respect him as a surgeon, but are sometimes afraid to approach him with questions or concerns based on his unpredictable reactions.

The other surgeon is an excellent surgeon; however, his patient outcome scores are not comparable.  The scores are respectable, simply not the outcomes representative of the first surgeon.  If you are his patient, he manages your care with the collaboration of the team.  He relies on each team member’s expertise; he develops a relationship with each caregiver and trusts their judgement related to patient care.  This surgeon would be considered low in neuroticism, as he is even keeled and predictable (PSY 533, 2017).  He is friendly, charismatic, and genuinely cares about his patients.

To aid in your decision, you are reminded that the actual surgical procedure is just a portion of the overall process. Surviving surgery may seem like the greatest challenge; in reality, it is the recovery phase that poses the greatest risk for complication.  Let’s suppose your loved one’s nurse notices a change in an xray, or a lab result, and suspects a complication.  Would the nurse call to alert the surgeon?  Based on the individual personalities of the two surgeons, which one would she most likely call to provide timely interventions.

Times up.  Which Dr. would choose?

Jane Black


PSY 533. (2017). L09 Five-Factor Model of Personality. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1834796/pages/l09-five-factor-model-of-personality?module_item_id=21902247




  1. Rachel Anne Moury March 26, 2017 at 10:47 PM #

    Fascinating blog, Jane. This isn’t a decision I would want to make, but just like Jason, I would lean toward competence over personality for the most skilled care for my loved one. Mostly, I would do this because I would be present to try to be the best advocate I could for my loved one (before, during, and after the procedure). So, if I perceived there was an issue, I might seek advice from someone more medically knowledgable than me about how best to proceed with either addressing the surgeon or other medical staff caring for my loved one. I would certainly hope that the rest of the team could make up for any interpersonal awkwardness that might occur with the surgeon, and that they would provide the level of personal, compassionate care my loved one deserved.

    Thanks for giving us another perspective to consider with your blog.


  2. Jason Dunbar March 24, 2017 at 4:39 PM #


    I really liked your blog post. You made it interactive and that snared me.

    As you describe the scenario I begin imagining my daughter and without question my answer is the first surgeon. I don’t want some blend of positive personality traits I want the surgeon with the best results. You showed good narrative command by inserting a caveat about the first surgeon that did make me pause. What if his team fears him too much to point out a potential oversight? Even then after a brief consideration I choose the first surgeon because his track record aligns with my expectations. I assume that such circumstances have arisen in the past and this surgeon has responded appropriately enough to save a patient’s life or ensure full recovery.
    The dilemma you present forces me to consider just how skewed my perspective gets when I view the surgeons as leaders versus professionals in their field. Dr. One gets better results, Dr. Two is more respected as a leader. I would prefer to work with or for Dr. Two, but I want Dr. One operating on my loved one.

    To extend your wonderfully constructed scenario (and in order to better apply some of what I have learned from this course and other courses in this program) I am now imagining how I would lead both of these doctors if I was a director at this hospital. To have two capable surgeons with such different personalities and skill sets would be a tremendous challenge. Path-Goal Theory (Northouse, 2016) sticks out to me as a good starting point because it asserts that a leader must identify the needs of his or her followers and then lead accordingly. Not every follower wants to be led in the same way. Path-Goal Theory ties in nicely with this unit of our PSY 533 course as it is founded upon the principle that individual differences are highly important for successful leadership. I don’t believe that there is only one, all-encompassing leadership theory that is “The Right One,” but scenarios like the one you created really force the mind toward just how important individual differences can be when it comes to leadership.


    Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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