Practicing Medicine

“How long have you been practicing?” the elderly patient asked. I had only been out of school a short time and the way he said it implied to me that he thought I had a bit to learn. A bad taste came in my mouth. “‘Practicing’ medicine?” I thought. “These are people. I can’t practice on them.  I better know what I’m doing or not be doing it at all.”

Some fifteen plus years later, my perspective is different. I sure hope I’m still practicing medicine. Practicing means I’m still learning. Practicing means I’m still open to new solutions.  Practicing means I get better with time instead of just older. “Practicing medicine” means it is of value to me, I do the best I can, and I put effort into getting better at it all the time.

stethoscope

In the book “The Gifts of Imperfection” author Brene Brown has suggested a whole new way to apply that idea and I have found it to be full of grace. Try this: “I practice compassion in my life.” “I am a practicing Christian.” “I practice forgiveness.” “I practice self-control.” “I practice healthy boundaries.” “I practice temperance.” Those statements mean that I value those things, I am doing the best I can, and I am putting effort into learning to do them better with time.  It accepts the fact that this life is a journey and we attain the skills to do it well through the process of living it.  “Practicing” gives us grace to forgive ourselves.  Today I’m going to practice.