Moving Us Closer To Osler
A Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence Initiative

A Fall Into Grace


I felt disappointed when I forgot to keep my patient at the center of care. I reminded myself that I have the chance to do better next time. 

In my first clerkship, I had my first clinical exam. I was on my last station, feeling confident in my performance and knowledge. Then I walked into my next room. My patient had palpitations and I asked for an EKG. I asked her how she was feeling and empathized with her response. 


Then I forgot her. My patient, who I should be thinking of as a partner, I forgot her, because my mind was trapped on the jagged edges of the EKG. 


I tripped over my thoughts and my words, growing more and more frustrated that I couldn’t figure out the station. My preceptor asked me leading questions, and I finally got there and gave her the proper treatment.  


I was unhappy, to say the least. Unhappy that I abandoned my patient-centered skills to a pink paper with a bunch of squiggles. Unhappy that I couldn’t translate those squiggles into actions without the help of my preceptor. I left my exam disappointed.  


Some people expect themselves to be almost perfect, including me. In my first clerkship, I learned that this isn’t sustainable. So, I’m practicing giving myself grace. But how do I give myself grace for a failure that impacts a real person?  


Here’s what I’ve been practicing:  


1. Reminding myself that I’m trying my best with the knowledge I have and the situation I’m in. 


2. Telling myself, “It’s ok to not be perfect.”


3. Moving away from judgment and reminding myself that I’m always learning and have the chance to do better next time.






This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.