You’re Only Human. Now What?

Portrait of female healthcare worker with face mask in operating room at hospital

Three ways to cope with fear of mistakes

Fear of messing up, especially in a professional setting, is only natural. In a healthcare environment, where the stakes may be life-and-death, that fear can be crippling. Here are some helpful tips to navigate the line between staying sharp and staying calm.

Tip 1: Rely on your team
Most medical mistakes are a result of improper procedures, system structures, or general oversight. In training and practice, there should be layers of medical professionals checking and double-checking your work. Ask for (and offer!) assistance when needed, and adhere to evidence-based performance guidelines. They’re in place for a reason.

Tip 2: Mistakes can serve a higher purpose
Mistakes happen. Once corrected, they can serve as a learning — and teaching — opportunity, ensuring the same mistake is never repeated.

Tip 3: Make friends with fear
Fear can be a gift. It keeps us wary, mindful, and vigilant, and motivates continual learning. Well-managed fear can be a friend . . . but it should never be a boss.

Explore useful wellness principles and practices in our course, Mindfulness for Healthcare Professionals.

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