Theres a saying that hard work beats talent, when talent fails to work hard. I want to focus on the hard work aspect of that quote. Anything you want to be good at requires practice, practice, and guess what? More practice. There was a paper written by psychologist K Anderson Ericsson about the theory of deliberate practice. He says:
“People believe that because expert performance is qualitatively different from normal performance the expert performer must be endowed with characteristics qualitatively different from those of normal adults…Instead, we argue that the differences between expert performers and normal adults reflect a life-long period of deliberate effort to improve performance in a specific domain.”
Please, take a second to read that again. What he’s saying is that people are not born experts. They worked hard and put in the time required to be great. The common denominator for all successful people is hard work. But heres the catch, you can’t just practice for the sake of practicing. You must be constantly trying to improve every time you practice. You should also receive feedback and apply it to the task at hand. Repetition coupled with feedback is the key to improvement. You cannot reach an expert level without either of these. According to Ericsson it takes a minimum of 10,000 hours to reach a level regarded by many as expert. He broke it down as practicing 20 hours for 50 weeks a year for 10 years; this is the type of practice with the intent to improve.
So, how does this apply to you? How does this apply to improving as a physician assistant? Well, you probably feel overwhelmed with all of the information you are required to know. Every great practitioner started knowing NOTHING. This means you are starting exactly where the greatest minds in medicine started. What is practice for you? Seeing patients. What is deliberate practice? Reading on a disease process, seeing a patient, and getting feedback from someone with more experience than you. Ask what you did wrong, what you can do differently next time, and then apply that way of thinking on the next patient. This is deliberate practice. This will ensure that you continue to improve, grow, and reach that expert level. Now, if you work 40 hours a week, this means you will reach that 10,000 hour benchmark in 5 years. Medicine is so vast that you probably won’t be considered an expert, but you will be worlds ahead of where you would have been otherwise.
Don’t get discouraged about the information. Believe in yourself and you will be as successful as you want to be. The only person holding you back is yourself. Remember…
Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, your right – Henry Ford