A new survey indicates a correct diagnosis is what patients most want from their doctor, and people would far rather see a doctor first rather than a nurse or pharmacist.
The survey is the first to examine the role of a doctor in this country and was carried out by the Medical Association.
Doctors say they play a special role in diagnosis and weighing the risks, as part of a wider healthcare team.
As well as understanding science, they say they are expected to have integrity and compassion and to take limited funding into consideration when making decisions.
The findings are published in the latest issue of the New Zealand Medical Journal.
The survey was carried out by the Medical Association, which asked 502 people questions by phone based on a similar survey in Britain.
Radio New Zealand's health correspondent says it showed 82% want to see a doctor first with a new health worry, compared to 7% who would want to see a nurse first, and 5% a pharmacist.
Almost 90% said an accurate diagnosis is their top priority.