Hitches and failures can happen regardless of your chosen career path. In the healthcare environment especially, some failures are more serious than others. As a healthcare professional, no doubt you would have encountered issues with patient’s diagnosis, failures in procedures, and so on.

Despite the setbacks and letdowns that you might have had throughout your profession, you should not let these disappointments hinder your progress as an individual and a professional in your field. Here are a few tips on surviving a setback in your medical career:

1. Avoid self-remorse

The first and foremost, avoid self-remorse and blaming yourself for the mistake or failure. Feeling down is normal, but indulging in self-remorse is not. As a matter of fact, self-pity is destructive and can often trigger more problems in your career as well as personal life. Instead of wasting your precious time and energy dwelling on your misery, choose to devote your resources to productive activities. [1]

2. Identify mistakes and oversights, lessons learned

While moving on requires you to not dwell on negativity, you should also be able to identify mistakes and oversights that caused the disappointment. Being in a state of denial is not the right way to move forward. In order to find ways to rectify mistakes, those mistakes should be recognised in the first place. However, it is also important to be realistic. Paul Schoemaker, the research director for the Mack Center for Technological Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and co-author of the book “Brilliant Mistakes”, noted that most people tend to overreact to their mistakes. [2]

View the situation as it is and do not exaggerate or overemphasize the problem. For example, if you have made a mistake over the care of a patient, own up and apologise instead of agonising over the situation and its possible outcomes.

3. Focus on the ultimate goal

Getting back on track after a setback needs a shift in perspective. Focus on your ultimate goal as a healthcare professional, rebuild your confidence, and try to find something that truly inspires and motivates you. Why did you choose to be a nurse, doctor, or surgeon in the first place? Think about new goals that you want to achieve, or explore different paths that will enable you to reach your ultimate goal. Keeping your mind focused in the right direction will avoid you from being bogged down by your failures.

There is no instant, magical solution to recover from career setbacks. Getting back on track after failures and breakdowns takes time. Although support from your family, friends and colleagues plays a huge role in the recovery process, the biggest effort has to be made from within yourself. Failures are not supposed to hold you back; instead, they should fuel your will and motivation to become better. As Winston Churchill put it, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” MIMS

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[1] Morin, Amy. “9 Ways Mentally Strong People Prevent Self-Pity From Sabotaging Their Success”. Forbes. 5 May 2015. Web. 14 Oct 2016. http://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2015/05/05/9-ways-mentally-strong-people-prevent-self-pity-from-sabotaging-their-success/#398418b46fa4
[2] Gallo, Amy. “You’ve Made A Mistake. Now What?”. Harvard Business Review. 28 April 2010. Web. 14 Oct 2016. https://hbr.org/2010/04/youve-made-a-mistake-now-what