My sister-in-law visited us this past weekend. It went OK, me her and the wife sat around after the kids had gone to sleep and drank coffee and talked. We talked about all the grown-up things that, well, grown-ups talk about like religion, politics, raising kids, marriage and relationships and of course EMS. Me and the wife are recent Paramedic graduates and the sister-in-law is just starting her education in EMS. She tried to get into nursing school but for one reason or another didn't make it, so she decided to go into EMS.
Not sure how we got onto the subject, but we started talking about grades and how well a person did on mega-codes and the like. The sis-in-law made a comment about me getting pissed if I didn't make 100% on every test. Apparently the wife and her had talked about this before. I then tried to explain myself and why I felt that way.
Yes, it is true that I expected nothing less than 100% on all tests. Is that wrong of me? As one of my first instructors told me, "This is people's lives that we're dealing with, it's not basket-weaving." For that reason, EMS students are held to a higher standard than other educational disciplines. We were required to make at least an 80 on all tests, unlike other classes that only require 70. I'm not sure if that is the way it is in other places, but that is the way the Paramedic course is around here.
I suppose I took that instructors words to heart. Maybe a little more than I should have, but it pushed me to learn more and be better, I think. Think about it statistically, if you make average of 80%, then that means you only know 80% of the information. What if late one night in a ditch somewhere someones life depends on that other 20% that you weren't paying attention to? Or didn't care to learn because an 80 was passing? I for one don't want to take that chance. I want to be the best I can be both for myself and more importantly for that patient that I haven't met yet. Which is always the very next one.
A few of my friends and classmates would get irritated when I would only make a 95 on a test, they would say, "You did better than I did". What they didn't understand was it wasn't a competition with any of them, it was between me and myself. I didn't really care what anyone else made. I wanted everyone to pass, but other than that it was always an inner competition. For some reason no one understood this, even the wife who was in the same class I was in. It was almost like they took it as a personal affront to themselves if I was hard on myself. I never understood this and still don't. Is it wrong of me to push myself to be the best I can be?
Perfection is something that no one can achieve, I know that. I also know that the scope of medicine and the human body is way too much for any one person to grasp and know everything about. But what is the hurt in trying to achieve that? Even knowing that it will never happen? Some people say I am just setting myself up for a fall, but thats not it. I know that I will never know everything nor ever be perfect. I know that no matter how good you are, there is always someone out there that is better. You will never be the "best". I know that I will make mistakes during my career. Hell, I've made plenty already, but I want to be able to learn from them and try not to make the same ones again. I strive everyday to be the a good caregiver, the best I know how to be. Everyday I strive for perfection. What is the harm in that?