When students enter medical school or junior doctors start specialist training, they don’t aim to be a “good enough” doctor—they want to be the best. However, we make mistakes or a patient has complained. It’s likely that someone picked up the error and no harm resulted, and the complaint may not be deserved—but still it punctures your pride and reminds you that you’re not perfect. It may even make you question whether you’re good enough.
None of us is perfect, and self-criticism can wear us down or burn us out. Helen Salisbury in this BMJ article, suggests however, that in the long term we’re of more use to the world if we can live with our errors, share them, and learn from them. Our patients would prefer that we never made any, but they accept that we’re human and fallible. Learning to admit those errors to patients, and to say sorry, is one of the hardest but most important steps to becoming a good enough doctor.