Excellence is the only option, but it takes practice, reflection and a plan

When I teach a one or two day course, I always include a portion on expertise. This is partially selfish. I enjoy improving this part and continual update it based on new books or videos that I see.

It all started with an article by Anders Ericcson.  (You can find it HERE.)

In this article, Ericcson talks about automaticity.  As a practitioner, you can develop and improve over the course of your career or you can get comfortable and stay the same.  By the end of a 20-30 year career, your performance will swan dive and actually worsen.  So the first year would be better than the 30th.

This scared me. I heard from teachers that all I needed was experience seeing patients. I examined and treated 1000 people, then I would be better just due to the experience.

Well, Ericcson blew that out of the water. More experience does not mean more skill. When a patient comes in and talks about how so and so has 20 years of experience which is why they went with them, I cringe. Experience is only valuable if it comes with a plan, reflection and feedback.

I developed a study plan when I got out of school that helped to keep me engaged with the process.  I put in place examination principles that give me time to practice the nuance of an exam 5-10 times per day. I used frequent check to gauge my manual and keep myself engaged in research. This is all to keep me from being the same practitioner tomorrow.

I fear being the same practitioner, which is why I won’t be.

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