“I feel incompetent”, was the three words told by Anja, before she took a long pause. I let the time go by, with my mind exploding with questions, not meant to be asked. Anja continued, “I cannot get over this feeling. What if the patient was treated by another of my batchmates. Most of them are obviously competent than me”. 

I assured Anja saying that most of the problems get sorted if we are able to clarify and dissect what is happening now. So we explored where this feeling of incompetence was coming from. I also assured her that this is not the first time I’m hearing this from a student. 

“This happended just last week. It was a simple filling to be done on one of the front teeth. I knew this girl of 20, she is very beautiful and has always something to share. I had practiced the day before the intended procedure, went through the steps with my supervisor, and started. Not sure what went wrong, the tooth got a exposure and it meant root canal treatment under a specialist.”

I wanted to say to Anja that mistakes happen in student practice, but was wondering if I will make a wrong impression. Patient care is most important and we stress it in all aspects of student learning. 

“Are you punishing ‘urself for this?”

“No, but I feel responsible. I compare with my friends in my batch and I feel competent. I understand that I am a student but still, the patient has to undergo a lot because of me, cost, time and also discomfort.”

We explored more on the aspects of who is responsible, what evidence is there on competence of students in learning, how could this situation be different if any factors changed. We decided on a task for Anja.

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