Tuesday, February 1, 2011

No regrets, and why missing class is bad (aka Karma Continued)

I skipped out on a CDM (clinical decision making) lecture last week.

Usually I'm a goody-two-shoes: I skipped class once last semester (that was to go see a patient - I'd say that's a good excuse).  I skipped class(es) once this semester - and this was one of the lectures on the day I skipped.  Ok, this time I didn't really have a good excuse - but hey, lectures are recorded, so I figured I'd look at it later.

And, of course, this lecture had one of the most important lessons I'll learn in med school (thanks Karma): No regrets.  More specifically, it went something like this:

"You can't control outcomes no matter how much you want to.  You make the best informed decision you can but bad outcomes are inevitable. If it doesn't turn out well, you'll feel guilty.  But the thing about making an informed decision - making a good decision - is that you won't (or shouldn't) regret the decision."

At least that's the theory: hell, I'll take it.  (Obviously I paraphrased what the lecturer said.)

This is an extremely important lesson that people need to learn in life, and it goes doubly, quadruply, 1000xuply for (future) doctors.  The "bad outcome" is pretty damn bad in the healthcare field.  So it's that much more important to make sure you make an informed decision.  And it's that much more important to not regret the bad outcomes.

Ok, clearly this is probably not a good decision in the first place, but it is funny. So there.

And of course, Karma did what it's famous for: it always gives 110%.  The professor was talking about how pharmaceutical companies use Willingness to Pay analyses to set drug prices.  At one point he asked "anyone worked in pharma?  As a consultant maybe?" and most of the class (that was there) was looking around to see where I was.  One of the few times my experiences are actually useful for a session... and I'm at the Verizon store upgrading my phone.  (In my defense, I was | | close to throwing my old phone over a bridge.  The Samsung Omnia was great when it came out - before the iPhone.  So in this day and age, it's a really crappy phone).

In reviewing the lecture today (and boy was it an appropriate day to do it... was/am having a pretty bad day), I have to say - Karma was actually on my side for a change.  It's not that I haven't learned this lesson through the school of hard knocks.  But hearing it from a lecturer makes it so... official.

And being reminded that you don't have to regret good decisions (regardless of the outcome) is always nice.

Of course, there's always that little detail: knowing that you made the right decision(s).  I work very hard to make sure I say the right things and do the right things.  I'm a good guy.  But when something goes wrong... I always have this guilt.  I was in control of the situation - or played a big role in the situation... therefore it could have somehow been my fault.  Something I didn't account for.

I know I beat myself up more when things go badly than the average person probably does.  But it's always important to separate the learning experience from the regret.  It's also important to remember that the outcome isn't always in your hands - no matter how hard you try or how informed / good intentioned your actions are.

I'm still working on it.  I'm still learning.

So at the end of the day, do I regret skipping class?  Nope.  Did it have a bad outcome?  Yes (but fortunately: no one died, and I didn't completely miss the boat - yay recorded lectures!)  It was the best decision I could've made at the time (hindsight's 20/20 so it doesn't count).  And since a picture is worth a thousand words (even if the picture is just a bunch of words) - here's how I feel about missing that lecture.  Here's how I feel about (most of) my actions in life:

In other news - my MDTI (Mechanisms of Disease and Therapeutic Interventions) final exam is 1 week from today.  This is the amount of information that will be tested:

I'm not going to let this stand in my way.  I will destroy this material and become the best damn doctor I can be.

Bring it on.

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