101 Quotes For Doctors (Inspiration, Appreciation & Motivation)

Updated on: December 3, 2023
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Written By Dr Ollie

Every article is fact-checked by a medical professional. However, inaccuracies may still persist.

Here I’ve collected 101 of my favourite quotes for doctors, or indeed any other healthcare professional.

From quotes on how to be a good doctor, inspiring quotes for doctors, quotes for aspiring doctors or quotes to thank a doctor after you’ve been under their care.

As a practising doctor myself, I do find coming back to some of these quotes can be a real motivator to continue delivering the best possible care I can to my patients.

Quotes On Being A Good Doctor

These quotes are all about being a good doctor and what it means to practice medicine well. They’re a touchpoint you can come back to during your career as a doctor.

1. “A good physician treats the disease, a great physician treats the patient who has the disease.” — William Osler

2. “Medicine is intention. Those who are proficient enough at using intention are good doctors.” — Sun Simiao

“Do as much as possible for the patient, and as little as possible to the patient.” — Sigmund Freud

4. “The purpose of the doctor or any human, in general, should not be to simply delay the death of the patient but to increase the quality of life.” — Patch Adams

Harvey Cushing quote

5. “A physician is obligated to consider more than a diseased organ, more even than the whole man – he must view the man in his world.” — Harvey Cushing

6. “There is no such thing as an infallible doctor” — Edward E Rosenbaum

7. “Observation, Reason, Human Understanding, Courage; these make the physician.” — Martin H. Fischer 

“The best doctors give the least medicine.” — Benjamin Franklin

9. “The physician’s highest calling, his only calling, is to make sick people healthy – to heal, as it is termed.” — Samuel Hahnemann

10. “Sometimes, the best thing we can do for our patients is to tell them what the best behaviour is and then negotiate something they can live with.” — Nancy Dickey

Inspiring Quotes For Doctors

These quotes both inspire me to be a better doctor and motivate me to continue learning about medicine.

11. “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” — Albert Schweitzer

12. “Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” — Hippocrates

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“From caring comes courage.” — Lao Tzu

14. “A doctor, like anyone else who has to deal with human beings, each of them unique, cannot be a scientist; he is either, like the surgeon, a craftsman, or, like the physician and the psychologist, an artist.” — W. H. Auden

15. “The simple act of caring is heroic.” — Edward Albert

16. “It is the lone worker who makes the first advance in a subject.” — Alexander Fleming

17. “The human body experiences a powerful gravitational pull in the direction of hope. That is why the patient’s hopes are the physician’s secret weapon. They are the hidden ingredients in any prescription.” — Norman Cousins

“In nothing do men more nearly approach the gods than in giving health to men.” — Cicero

19. “He is the best physician who is the most ingenious inspirer of hope.” — Samuel Taylor Coleridge

20. “There has never been a doctor who served many patients who despite their best efforts did not lose some of them to death. But they understood that was a part of life itself.” — Zig Ziglar

Quotes Expressing Appreciation To Doctors

These are a collection of quotes you can use to express your appreciation to a doctor or healthcare professional if you’ve recently been under their care.

21. “People pay the doctor for his trouble; for his kindness, they still remain in his debt.” — Seneca

“Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes for you.” — Anthony Robbins

23. “Whoever saves the life of one person, it shall be as if he had saved the life of mankind.” — Quran

24. “Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.” — Ernest Hemingway

25. “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” — James Allen

26. “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” — JFK

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” — William Arthur Ward

28. “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” — Mark Twain

29. “Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.” — Randy Pausch

30. “Medicines can cure diseases, but only doctors can cure patients.” — Carl Jung

Quotes For Aspiring Doctors

These are quotes that I think would be valuable for medical students to read, or indeed any aspiring doctor- whether you’re at school, university, or currently in another career.

31. “To study the phenomena of disease without books is to sail an uncharted sea, while to study books without patients is not to go to sea at all.” — William Osler

“The life so short, the craft so long to learn.” ― Hippocrates

33. “To become comfortable with uncertainty is one of the primary goals in the training of a physician.” — Sherwin B. Nuland

34. “To solve a difficult problem in medicine, don’t study it directly, but rather pursue a curiosity about nature and the rest will follow.” — Roger Kornberg

35. “The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet, and the cause and prevention of disease.” — Thomas A. Edison

“Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing.” — Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire

37. “Doctors put a wall up between themselves and their patients; nurses broke it down.” — Jodi Picoult

38. “Each patient carries his own doctor inside him.” ― Norman Cousins

Henry Ward Beecher quote

39. “To array a man’s will against his sickness is the supreme art of medicine.” — Henry Ward Beecher

40. “Let the young know they will never find a more interesting, more instructive book than the patient himself.” — Giorgio Baglivi

RELATED: 21 Compelling Reasons To Become A Doctor

Quotes From Doctors In TV Series

While all of these quotes are from fictional characters in TV series, there is undoubtedly some real wisdom in them.

41. “People never change. They just become more of who they really are.” — Dr House, House MD

42. “It is in the nature of medicine that you are gonna screw up. You are gonna kill someone. If you can’t handle that reality, pick another profession. Or finish medical school and teach.” — Dr House, House MD

43. “Maybe the best thing to do is stop trying to figure out where you’re going and just enjoy where you’re at.” — JD, Scrubs

“Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it, but every now and then look around. Drink it in, ’cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow.” — Meredith, Grey’s Anatomy

45. “I’m a human being, I make mistakes. I’m flawed. We all are.” — Derek Shepherd, Grey’s Anatomy

46. “Some people live more in twenty years than others do in eighty. It’s not the time that matters, it’s the person.” — The Doctor, Doctor Who

47. “You’re right, I’m weird. Part of my weirdness is that I perseverate.” — Shaun, The Good Doctor

“Sometimes in life when you get what you want, you end up missing what you left behind.” — JD, Scrubs

49. “Breakthroughs don’t happen because of the medicine. Real breakthroughs happen because someone is scared to death to stop trying.” — Dr Shepherd, Grey’s Anatomy

50. “It’s too big a world to be in competition with everyone. The only person who I have to be better than is myself.” — Col. Potter, M*A*S*H

Quotes About The NHS

The NHS, in my humble opinion, is one of the UK’s greatest assets. Here are some quotes about our National Health Service.

51. “The NHS is the closest thing the English have to a religion.” — Nigel Lawson

52. “In my opinion, our health care system has failed when a doctor fails to treat an illness that is treatable.” — Kevin Alan Lee

53. “One of the virtues of the NHS… it doesn’t worry you about money at the moment when you’re least capable of doing anything about it.” — Clive James

“Anyone who works in the NHS has superpowers. It’s a miracle, it is magic.” — Benedict Cumberbatch

55. “The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with faith to fight for it” — Aneurin Bevan

56. “Give people what they need: food, medicine, clean air, pure water, trees and grass, pleasant homes to live in, some hours of work, more hours of leisure. Don’t ask who deserves it. Every human being deserves it.” — Howard Zinn

57. “I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS, I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.” — Stephen Hawking

58. “The bottom line: health care reform is about the patient, not about the physician.” — Abraham Verghese

“The NHS is a national organisation, but it is best delivered locally.” — Andrew Lansley

60. “I am romantic about the NHS. I love it.” — Donald Berwick

Quotes About Healing

Healing is an integral part of the disease process. These quotes are all about the journey of recovery patients have to make after being unwell.

61. “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” — Hippocrates

62. “Healing is the application of love to the places inside that hurt.” — Iyanla Vanzant

63. “We do not heal the past by dwelling there; we heal the past by living fully in the present.” – Marianne Williamson

“My doctor told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.” — Wilma Rudolph

65. “It’s not all about healing yourself; it’s just as importantly about letting yourself heal.” — Terri Guillemets

66. “Drugs are not always necessary. Belief in recovery always is.” — Norman Cousins

67. “Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are.” — Rachel Naomi Remen

“The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases is that there are physicians for the body and physicians for the soul, although the two cannot be separated.” — Plato

69. “Treating the body is really about treating the mind. It is all psychosomatic – every bit of it. No exceptions.” — Esther Hicks

70. “Healing is an inside job.” – Dr B.J. Palmer

Great Quotes From Doctors

Everyone quoted in this section is a doctor themselves. Some of the quotes are about medicine but some are just generally good life advice.

71. “Medicine should probably be leaving the well to be well instead of constantly trying to find something wrong with them.” — Iona Heath

“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.” — Sigmund Freud

73. “I have had dreams and I have had nightmares, but I have conquered my nightmares because of my dreams.” — Jonas Salk

74. “The world requires at least ten years to understand a new idea, however important or simple it may be.” — Ronald Ross

75. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” — Hippocrates

“We get out of life what we put into it. The way we treat others is the way we ourselves get treated.” — Ben Carson

77. “Science has everything to say about what is possible. Science has nothing to say about what is permissible.” — Charles Krauthammer

78. “You have to be odd to be number 1.” – Dr Seuss

79. “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” — Carl Jung

80. “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” — Benjamin Spock

Quotes About Disease

Disease is the process that causes a patient to seek the help of a doctor in the first place. These quotes are all about disease and the effects it can have on patients.

81. “In examining disease, we gain wisdom about anatomy and physiology and biology. In examining the person with disease, we gain wisdom about life.” ― Oliver W. Sacks

“The physician should not treat the disease but the patient who is suffering from it” ― Moses Maimonides

83. “Extreme remedies are very appropriate for extreme diseases.” — Hippocrates

84. “All diseases run into one, old age.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

85. “Health consists of having the same diseases as one’s neighbours.” — Quentin Crisp

86. “Death is the cure for all diseases.” — Thomas Browne

87. “There is no illness that is not exacerbated by stress.” ― Allan Lokos

88. “Diseases are the tax on pleasures.” — John Ray

“Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is one hundred percent.” ― R.D. Laing

90. “Medicine heals doubts as well as diseases.” — Karl Marx

Funny Quotes About Medicine

To finish off, here are some great quotes about medicine that may tickle your funny bone. In medicine, sometimes you do just have to look on the brighter side of life.

91. “The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” — Voltaire

92. “A specialist is a man who knows more and more about less and less.” — William J. Mayo

“The man who doctors himself with the aid of medical books runs the risk of dying of a typographical error.” – Evan Essar

94. “The first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine.” — William Osler

95. “Doctors are great as long as you don’t need them.” — Edward E. Rosenbaum

96. “After you find out all the things that can go wrong, your life becomes less about living and more about waiting.” — Chuck Palahniuk

97. “The role of a clown and a physician are the same – it’s to elevate the possible and to relieve suffering.” — Patch Adams

“Prescription: A physician’s guess at what will best prolong the situation with least harm to the patient.” — Ambrose Bierce

99. “Our profession is the only one which works unceasingly to annihilate itself.” — Martin H. Fischer

100. “A doctor is a man who writes prescriptions till the patient either dies or is cured by nature.” — John Taylor

101. “Though the doctors treated him, let his blood, and gave him medications to drink, he nevertheless recovered.” ― Leo Tolstoy

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you found value in some of these quotes- whether that be inspiration, motivation or just a good laugh.

There’s an abundance of “quotes” on the internet, but I did do my best to ensure each one I included on the list had a credible source.

If I haven’t included one of your favourite quotes for doctors here please do send me a message so I can update it for the future!

About the author
After studying medicine at the University of Leicester, Dr Ollie now works as a junior doctor in London. His interests include medical education and expedition medicine, as well as having a strong belief in the importance of widening access to medicine.