“Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask ourselves this crucial question: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn't, it is of no use.” ~Carlos Castaneda

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fly on Little Wing

“Fear of failure must never be a reason not to try something.”
~Frederick Smith

You know it is hard for me to resist a challenge. So, when my father-in-law asked me if I wanted to climb Snowdonia, I said sure. I am reasonable fit. I can put on some hiking shoes and walk up a mountain, no problem. I think I forgot I have a little fear of heights.

I looked up from the bottom of the mountain. The top was cloud covered. There was a chill in the air, a few clouds, but no rain. I put on my gear and away we went. We were the first on the well traveled. There had been many before us.
Like many journeys, it is hard to imagine how hard it will be. We rely on those before us to lead the way. Educational journeys are no different than physical ones.

The path residency is well worn. At the beginning, the end is hard to see. We are given a glimpse of the end by those ahead of us. For the most part, we feel prepared. Our gear has been packed.
We walked to the base of the mountain at a brisk pace. The mountain streams flowed into clear lakes. Barely breathing heavy, we reached the beginning of the difficult climb. My father-in-law led the way. This wasn't his first time. I needed his wisdom to show me the way.
In residency, it is important to be given guidance. Those with wisdom should guiding you way through the difficult tasks. Although the books and literature give you some perspective, they do not give the whole story. Those colored pictures by Netter do not give you an idea of how to place retractors or set up a room. Most technique books fail to give you all of the information needed to go through a procedure smoothly. This is when your guide comes in handy.
Walking up the mountain, it was clear to me I would not be physically challenged. Although it was steep in areas, it was not physically hard. I quickly over took my guide, bounding forward far ahead. As I looked back to see where my partner was, the reality of what we were doing hit me. We are climbing a F%#k#$g mountain. What was I thinking?
As the years go by, it is common for learners to feel that they have surpassed their educators. With more experience and confidence, the learner may question his/her educator's rationale for a specific treatment. They may feel there s a better way, but lack the experience to know all of the positives and negatives of the treatment they have chosen. It is only when they are allowed to go forth with their choice or to complete a procedure without much educator input that they see their inexperience and the holes in their education. With their errors in thought or technique brought to light, the learner and educator can work together to improve and in the end succeed.
My heart beat faster. How am I going to complete this task? I adjusted. I found ways of decreasing my fear and improving my chance at succeeding. Keeping my head down and pushing forward, I overcame my fear and made it to the top. I completed the challenge.

With every other step forward, there may be a step back. But it is only with being self critical, that we can grow. It is only with acknowledging you weaknesses, fears, and errors that you can improve. It is important to continue to push forward, always taking into account your limits.
As I smile for my summit picture, I had the scary realization that I wasn't done. I still had to walk down.
For all of you graduates, remember this is not the end, only the beginning. Your education has just begun. This is only the first peak at the beginning of your career. As you begin in your journey, here are a few words to remember: stay self aware, listen to you gut and your patients, you can always be better, and always do the next right thing.
So, with my task only partially completed, I grabbed a hold of the mountain and walked down.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”
~Ambrose Redmoon