It is part of our profession that we will never stop trying to be perfect and – just as true – that we will always fall short. As a student, it tends to be about the tests you are taking and the feeling that you will never study enough.
As a resident, it’s the feeling that you don’t know enough to make the decisions you are being asked to make. As a practicing physician, you will at times stay awake at night worrying about your decisions, even when you know you did the best you could.
“Failing” at a task (or test) is different than being a “failure.” When you have moments you feel you could have done better, use it as motivation to study a little more, go back to the textbook, look up one more article, or review all the facts again. William Osler, in his famous book to medical students (Osler’s Aequanimitas) talked about keeping a journal of mistakes: “Begin early to make a threefold category – clear cases, doubtful cases, mistakes.