A dull Friday afternoon, Ms Joy, a senior dental student, was managing a 80-year-old gentleman. The patient, who was ‘really’ patient, was having trouble with his wisdom teeth. Joy identified the problem due to a large cavity near the gum line. She filled the cavity and immediately realised that it was a far cry from her usual quality of work. Joy was miserable.

Joy and I explored why the situation was miserable. We started positive.

  1. Joy had done the best possible work in the situation given. The tooth was very behind and a difficult area to treat, patient was old and fragile, patient gets easily tired due to his age.
  2. Joy had explained the consequences of a compromised filling and made sure that the patient understood the implications, including pain and removal of tooth.
  3. Joy had compared this work with her previous works and that of others. She had ignored the difficulties and the difference in the conditions. She had judged her work in an unbiased manner, based only on the outcome.
  4. Joy had an unarticulated, yet clear idea of how her work should be. The present work was not hers at all! Her expectations were independent of the circumstances that could affect the quality.
  5. Joy wants to excel. She has improved on the quality but has not audited the improvement. “I could do better!”.

We concluded; Joy was judged very harshly by herself. “Know what I want, Do what I can!” Joy concluded that improving is better than excelling. Comparing her previous work, or the work of others, should help her improve and not depress her. Reflection based on objective evaluation is important.

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I write blogs on Academic Coaching, topics that empower students in their learning journey. For the complete blog posts on academic coaching, click here.





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