On surgery and confidence

I recently read an excerpt from Mindy Kaling’s upcoming book, “Why Not Me” in Glamour.  (At first, I skipped over the links on my facebook feed because in my mind I was like “Glamour?!” but when a few of my thoughtful friends reposted it I thought to myself, well, I might as well be informed.)  The article delves into Mindy’s secret to confidence:“Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled.”


This past year has been a steep learning curve for surgery.  Learning to use both hands in a tiny space and controlling the machines with my feet was fun on some days, and torture on others.  Over the months, there was a pattern in some of my feedback, where I was told that I was too “hesitant” or too “tentative” – all words pointing to this underlying thing: lack of confidence.  It wasn’t until my midterm review, when I brought it up, that I got a new perspective on it. I was reassured that I had good hands, but instead of focusing on how I would demonstrate confidence – my preceptors advised me to focus on anticipating the next step. Because, not everyone’s personalities will be the type that exudes confidence.  Some of us will work hard, will know our stuff, and yet – it can be detrimental, or a distraction, to focus on “showing confidence.”

I took their advice to heart and started to think about what my next steps are each time I was about to complete a step.  It reminded me of the multiple piano recitals and competitions growing up, where you build up a fluidity in the piece you’re performing because while your fingers were playing, part of you were thinking about the section that came next.

And so, I’ve started to build up a fluidity to surgery, and have noticed a change in my performance.  I am really thankful to teachers who are not only dedicated to teaching the surgery, but also teaching the student.


If anyone asked me about confidence, I would add to Mindy’s advice.  It would be to know yourself, or talk to someone who does.