When I began my residency, I wanted to deepen my clinical expertise so I could better serve the growing population of older adults. I thought my perfectionism would be an asset in this process and help me be successful. As a high achiever, I focused on meeting internal and external expectations, not on growth. What I did not think of was how to better myself as a person—or that I even needed to do so. I did not know that perfectionism can be a weakness that affects not only me but also those around me.
I am not alone in my perfectionism as a healthcare professional. Research shows that perfectionism can lead to depression in nurses; negative feelings including guilt, fear, and shame in emergency medicine physicians after a medical error; and difficulty in receiving feedback and challenges in interpersonal relationships among physicians.
Just as muscles require an overload stimulus to increase strength, I needed the pressure of residency to make changes in myself that bettered me as a person—and in turn benefited my roles as a physical therapist, coworker, spouse, teacher, and researcher.
Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation
Gillette, David B., "The Best is the Enemy of the Good" (2019). All Faculty Scholarship. 365.
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