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Is an A for Effort Enough?

So, I've been a doctor now for 16 years. I've been out of residency for 13 of those. I have had a variable and amazing career and I'm still on the early end of it. What a great life.

However, I'm still human and still make mistakes. I'm not talking about dosing mistakes or medical decision making mistakes. I'm sure I have made my share of those, just as any other physician. I take great pride in my job and the education it requires. I try to read and stay current. I work hard to maintain my certification and take the best care of my patients that I can.

The mistakes I seem to make have to do with my own life. I have twice taken a job primarily for the money. I know no one likes to admit such things, but it's true. Granted, they were jobs in my field, doing what I have spent the better part of my life trying to learn to do. It isn't as if I took a job selling pharmaceuticals when I really wanted to be a clinician. But they turned out to be jobs I should not have taken. My first job was about trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole. I was the square peg, and Alabama was the hole. I didn't fit in with the community, I didn't fit in at my clinic, I didn't fit. And it cost me. It cost me emotionally, it cost me financially and it cost me in terms of my own self confidence. I lost a lot in that job. You would think I would have learned.

But no, then I took the job I was in prior to this latest one, both because they were doing something I believed in and the money was great. It was actually almost exactly what I was making in Alabama. This time, however, I did NOT go out and buy a big house and spend myself in to a position where I couldn't afford to leave. Thank heaven.

I have taken jobs, rather than starting my own practice, mostly because I know that I am not really cut out to run a business. I know this about myself the same way I know that Cadbury's mini-eggs just don't have a chance to last more than a week or so at my house. I get petulant sometimes, I am terrible with money and I just trust people who want to sell things to me too much. Unless I had limitless investment capital, I just would run out of resources to run an office well. I am okay with knowing that about myself.

I am okay with being an employee. I am a pretty good employee, too. I work hard, I pitch in, I have finally grown out of that "do just enough to not get noticed" phase of my life. I will admit I was an 85% kind of girl. After realizing that no one cares if you get straight As after you get admitted to medical school. In med school, you are just required to pass. As we used to say after reviewing our test scores, "P = MD" where P means "pass." So that meant that getting 85% of the way there was usually enough. And so that's all I did. I am not saying this because I am proud of that. I'm saying it because it is true. Well it was true. Now I want to be the kind of person who does what she says she will do and does it 100%. It's a challenge for me, as a former "do just enough" kind of girl. I am encouraged and motivated to do it, though, when I consider what I would want from my doctor. Or my daughter's. Or my father's. If I expect it from them, I should be delivering it myself.

Anyway, that isn't what this is supposed to be about. But I guess it should be as much as any thing. The original post I had in mind was all about learning to live on less money because now I'm taking a job for love and respect rather than for money, and it has really pinched my wallet. But that can wait for another day. Fantastically, taking the job I am in now seems to have been a real exercise in going all in 100%. Today can just be about reminding myself that 85%, while it's a solid B effort, just is not enough. Doing good sake for the sake of doing good work has to be enough. I cannot be about getting an A or being valedictorian or having an award. It has to be about reaching out to patients and doing my best for them. It has to be about going to bed at night knowing that I did the best that I could for my patients every day.

That extends to my family, to my home, to my other areas of life. I admit that it doesn't seem to extend to my household chores. I guess I should put "needs improvement" on the report card of my life in that particular area. But at least I'm getting a solid B.



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