How Medical School taught me how not to give a F***
Medical students are the most type A people to walk this earth. Not only did we get 4.0s, we excelled as leaders, we volunteered AND we excelled at sports. We proved to be the best in the system in addition to incurring the most delayed satisfaction compared to any field.
One of the habits most medical students pick up is being anal retentive. This is required to be a detailed physician because one number, one medication, one document could change the outcome of a patient’s life. The documentation has to be correct, the orders have to be correct, what you say to the patient and other doctors have to be 100% correct.
However, we make mistakes. We are human. Obviously, there is a spectrum of mistakes. Ones that don’t mean anything and ones that can kill.
While doctors are demanded to be personable, efficient and brilliant all at the same time you’ll find a lot of physicians have anxiety. It’s almost fostered because we can’t make any mistakes. But if you were to compound the anxiety of the mistakes you made, in addition to the problems of everyday life you would go insane. That’s why after a while I created a couple personal questions to keep things in perspective.
- Is someone dying because of this mistake? Maybe this is more applicable to my job than to your everyday life however, it is still a good thing to think about. Did running that red light result in someone dying? No, OK ill try not to do it again, but no one is dead. If someone is dead than yes you have the right to be extremely anxious.
- If I spend more time thinking about this issue will it change the outcome? Usually, if you end up sitting somewhere just stressing out about something that just happened and you can take no action to change what happened, than it’s not worth the brain power.
These two simple questions have helped me compartmentalize the stress and anxiety that can flow through one’s brain after an embarrassing conversation or an acutely stressful situation.