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  • tgedman

Day 14: I’m a doctor and I’m not perfect: here’s 4 reasons why that’s a good thing

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

As a doctor I feel immense responsibility for the health of my patients.

With this comes the notion that I need to be perfect to be competent and safe.

This has been emotionally crushing for me on numerous occasions. Here are 4 reasons for why admitting I am not perfect has helped me and my patients:

Reason #1 I’m more likely to ask for help

Being perfect means not admitting you have flaws or gaps in your knowledge.

I tell myself ‘I should know this’ when in fact, it’s impossible know everything as a GP.

Admitting knowledge gaps allows me to ask help to solve complex problems for my patients and increase safety.

Reason #2 I’m more empathetic

People often trust others who have been through the same experiences.

My own battle with depression, anxiety and stress over the years makes me appreciate the pain people suffer when they go through hard times.

Showing vulnerability has helped me form deeper therapeutic connections with patients which supports healing and growth.

Reason #3 Growth is more inspiring

People love a story. The ‘Heroes Journey’ is a common framework in films and fiction. Start>challenge>adversity>set back>collaborate>learn>grow>end in a better position.

If I stated off as ‘perfect’, there is no room for growth and no inspiration for others on the same journey as you.

Reason #4 I can learn from mistakes without extreme stress

Errors and omissions are inevitable in medical practice despite best efforts to reduce harm.

If a rare error occurred in the past, it would cause severe stress and knock my confidence.

Realising I am human and not ‘perfect’ allows me learn and grow from errors to maximise safety without being crushed by my own negative self-talk and expectation.

In summary, I once believed people want a perfect doctor.

Now I believe people would prefer a doctor who is proficient, dedicated, willing to show vulnerability, ask for help and to learn from rare mistakes.

Which type of doctor would you prefer?

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