4 Things Software Engineers Can Learn From Doctors

As strange as the title of this blog seems, there are some things Software Engineers can actually learn from Doctors. Engineering and Medical Sciences are farthest in terms of career choices. But, both of them have some commonalities. Customers and clients of software engineering services and patients of a doctor. Software engineers use software, coding languages, mathematical formulae and doctors use medicines, surgical tools, X-Rays etc. Both professions are result oriented. Nobody wants a software just crashing all the time and a doctor who never fixes his/her sickness.

So looking at these commonalities I started thinking is there something software engineers can learn from doctors? I think there are some things we (software engineers) can learn from doctors. Just a note, I am using doctors as a collective term for general physicians, surgeons, dentists, gynecologists etc.  

1. Similar Symptoms Different Remedies

There are thousands of patients going to their doctors every day complaining about fevers. But, do doctors give all of them the same medicine? No. Because even though the symptoms are similar the remedies are different. The reason behind that is that similar symptoms might not always mean similar illnesses. Also, the choice of medicine depends on the experience of the doctor, physiology and medical history of the patient.

Now, think of patients as customers and clients of software engineering services. Even though different customers demand similar things, it is important to study demand of each customer separately based on team’s experience, expertise, the environment at customer’s workplace.

2. Precision Is Of Essence

The precision with which a surgeon conducts the operation is no surprise. Now, it is not just because it is the job of a surgeon to do it but also there’s someone’s life at stake. So, finally, it comes down to the distance between the tip of the knife and a nerve which decides well being and bad condition of the patient. Hence, precision is important.

For software engineers, this precision is required in terms of mathematical algorithms, perfect connections between client-server, right security measures. One breach of security and a whole company might get sabotaged. I believe we the software engineers, should treat our codes, technologies as surgical tools and software as the subject. This also is true while creating a software from scratch as well as while maintaining the software, bug fixes etc.

3. Regular Followups

A good doctor never leaves his patient/s alone after the patient is cured medically. A good doctor will always recommend followup meetings with him/her. The reason for these follow-up meetings is actually to check if the remedy has cured the sickness completely? Also, it helps to see if there are any other side effects.

The exact same tactic can be exercised by software engineers. After a software is delivered to the customer, we should not just forget about them. Just a call asking about the wellbeing of the software can go miles in terms of the relationship between software engineers and customers/clients. The same kind of followup meetups can be held with prior customers just to see if everything is going well? 

4. A Smile Can Go Long Way

The biggest soft power of any doctor is his/her smile and pleasant appearance. It is well known in India that the patient should get cured 50% just by looking at doctor’s face. The essence of this statement is that there are much deeper effects of a doctor’s conduct on a patient. It is a no-brainer that the patient should have full confidence in the doctor and what better way than giving a good confident smile while receiving the patient?

Most of a software engineer’s time is spent on problem-solving. Now, these problems can come from customers, clients, managers, other stakeholders and sometimes the colleagues too! Every software engineer tries his/her best to solve the problem but what can give him/her boost? A smile. Yes, let’s give a good confident smile to anyone who comes to you with his/her problem and then see the difference. I believe we software engineers should learn this Soft-skill from doctors.

Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow. – Anthony J. D’Angelo

Disclaimer: The views and points written in this blog are completely mines. My current employer Autodesk has no relation to these views and must not be held responsible in any way.

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