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In Search of Excellence

I have people say to me, “I could never be a doctor, it’s too hard.” There is some truth to that but being a doctor isn’t all that difficult. Getting into medical school is hard, but once you get in, you’re 99% positive that you’ll graduate.

However, being a good doctor is hard work. Working in the wards, you can immediately tell when a patient is in good hands and when they are in mediocre hands.

It’s the strive for excellence that requires relentless determination. It’s the desire to be a thorough doctor that keeps you reading into the late hours of the night and to be disciplined to continue with your self learning.

Sometimes, I’m too tired after a long day and I give myself a break, perhaps watch some TV and just bum around. But I know that in order for me to give the best care, it requires more effort than just learning on the wards. You have to keep up with your readings, master your presentation skills, keep your knowledge up to date, and continue to improve on your clinical skills.

It’s the unattainable quest for perfection that makes becoming a good doctor so difficult. So yes, you can be a doctor that works part time and just does easy routine checkups, but you’ll be doing a disservice to your talents and to your patients. If you cut corners and do less than your best, you put patients at risk.

So don’t be afraid of the medical student who admits he doesn’t know it all but tries his best. Beware of the student that thinks he knows enough to get the job done, because complacency is a dangerous thing to have.

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