The Measure of Success

Who’s a successful doctor? Especially when we can succeed or fail in a number of ways like financially, in family, career, friendships and society… all these are important and yet it is hard to succeed in all of them. All of these have the potential to be of great concern in choosing a specialty as a doctor or any career for that matter. But I also think that for all health professionals, one thing remains most important by far and that is patient care. Care for the patient is still more important than any other factor because of the nature of the commitment we made when we first set out on this journey, to be the protectors of life and good health and these, life and good health, are invaluable.

So as I deliberate on the next step, I do well to ask myself, how will this affect the quality of care I give to my patients or any other person that looks to me for health-care or consult? I find this question quite comprehensive because it not only appraises your ability as a health-care provider but also your availability to offer your knowledge and skills. For example, are you cut out for a career in this specialty? And will your career choice render you unable to provide the quality of care that is expected of you to your patients? Will you be required to make sacrifices that you are unwilling and practically unable to make like giving up spending quality time with your family or engaging in social activities with your friends or living and working in another country or giving up your hobbies? Rather than simply asking, “Am I ready to pay the price to get to the next level?”, ask “Am I able to make the sacrifices required to make it to the next level while maintaining high-quality care for my patients?”

There are doctors who seem to be uncommitted to the career choices that they made. They have the knowledge and skills alright but they can’t seem to accept the fact that their career choices have imposed on them certain limits within which they have to exist. Not that doctors and all health workers should be all about patient care but that everyone should be able to do that which they committed themselves to. And it may be too late for some of us who are already stuck in specialties that they are not cut out for but I hope to inspire those like me who are still uncommitted to gather enough information before they commit; not just about how to get there but how to keep there while still remaining the good doctors we all initially set out to be. To know not only about the career but even more about oneself, one’s strengths and weaknesses and the stuff one really cares about.

We are different, we have different goals, different cares, and different circumstances. Therefore, I expect that we’ll all answer this question in different ways. And failure to be candid and fearless in answering this question will have us all, as I see right now, moving in the same direction and yet to no similar ends; chasing goals that are not our own, seeking “inspiration” from men unlike ourselves. We all just want to do the procedure, hold the position and make the salary that everybody else wants instead of finding a balance unique to ourselves and our context. A balance that ensures that we’ve not so severely compromised the lives of the people under our care or even our own lives.

Featured Image: Hugh Laurie from the TV Show, House MD, who  protagonist is an antisocial maverick diagnostician 

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