Health Questions and Answers

How I Develop My Confidence

How I Develop My Confidence

Rodolfo T. Rafael,MD.

April 1994, that was the last month of our internship when our Intern Coordinator in National Kidney Institute, called up a meeting for 13 Interns out of 350 applicants from different medical schools. The purpose was to ask each and everyone of us what field do we plan to pursue for residency training, because if it was available in that institution then automatically they will give us a slot. I still remember when he asked me what was my plan, I told him that I didn’t want to undergo residency training, instead I want to go on private practice after the board exam. They ask me if we are family of MD’s, I answered them negatively then they laughed at me. All of them told me that it’s a non-sense and ridiculous plan.

One day I realized that it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter whether all my friends, colleagues and acquaintances agreed with me, believed the way I did, or thought I was odd. And, come to think of it, that knot which was in my chest for (-ever?) so long, was gone. In its place was something solid, and warm, strong and flexible. In its place was calm self -confidence. Without realizing it, I already created a beautiful confidence. I also found the understanding that confidence is not arrogance, it’s not brash or pushy, and it’s quiet, strong, flexible and very calm.

Know Thyself. That’s the first thing I thought, before I decided to go on private practice way back 1994 a few months after we pass the Physician’s board exam. I have learned about myself, how am I ready to do so. When I’m at my best, what am doing differently from when I’m not at my best? In short, what do I need to function well in my daily practice? (Sleep at least 6-8 hours, quiet time for the review of the case of the day. Everyday I make a habit to review everything that happened in the clinic and make it a point to read all the cases which I am expecting to follow-up the following day, contact with those I love, and pray) Also, I learned what is best for me to avoid (alcohol, nightlife, smoking and the like).

Respect for Self. I respect the information that I learned above. You can not respect others if you can’t respect yourself. In short, rather than trying to change my needs, I met them. Though this began very crude, I am already upgrading. The important thing is to take exceptional care of ourselves. How I do that? I make to a point that I can find a time of at least 45 minutes for my physical fitness. On the few days that I missed a workout and chose to make up for it later , I actually felt worse- and I don’t mean from guilt. I was physically more sluggish and not alert. Finding the time and making your workout the priority in taking care of yourself will determine whether you win in the long run. I also maintain a balance diet, although I still struggle in putting my weight in an ideal one.

Respect for Others. This comes in many ways. Tact, sympathy and understanding are expected from every physician, for the patient is no mere collection of symptoms, signs, disordered functions, damaged organs, and disturbed emotions. He is human, fearful, and seeking relief, help and reassurance. It may be trite to emphasize that physicians need to approach patients not as “cases” or “diseases” but as individuals whose problems all too often transcend the complaints that bring them to the doctor. Most patients are anxious and frightened. Often they go to great ends to convince themselves that illness does not exist., or unconsciously they set up elaborate defenses to divert attention from the real problem that they perceive to be serious or life-threatening. As a physician respect to your patient is the most delicate and very complex task that I have to tackle, even though I’m loaded with a knowledge as to how I can treat their illness still I can’t implement it fully without that respect. Many times when I’m alone in the clinic, especially during the drought period. That was the first 2 years of my practice, I put myself as a patient act as a patient, so that when I’ am lucky enough and have one, I know how to approach and talk to them. Physician – Patient Relationship is very hard to establish, but one way to maintain it is to RESPECT them whoever they are whatever their status in the community. The ideal physician-patient relationship is based on thorough knowledge of the patient, on mutual trust and on the ability to communicate with the other. I began by saying to myself when another was acting in a way I didn’t understand, “though I don’t understand what you’re doing, or why, I wish you well”. This began a process of letting go of other’s rules, needs and wants. And it helped me to know that I can thrive even while others cannot.

Another side of this is to accept responsibility for how meeting my needs may affect others. This is huge and should never be abused, or neglected.

Strength through Flexibility. I have become very flexible in my practice and meeting my needs. And in what I need to avoid. I understand that the more flexible I am, the stronger I am. Once I understand what meeting a need fulfills, I can find a number of ways to meet the need which will fit any schedule or lifestyle. For example, what does a 3-hour/day reading books, journals, medical algorithm, etc. give to me? Does it revitalize my mind? How else can I be revitalized physically? Can it come from a 45 minutes exercise/day? By knowing it, then you can schedule your time to do it daily, and flexible enough to fit it.

Continuous Improvement. I refine the above. I strive to be like the tide, rushing around, over, under and sometimes through the rocks in its way. Water takes whatever route necessary to reach its destination – I strive to be like the water. I can also be like the willow, bending in the wind, it does not change though it appears transformed. Flexibility is the best gift a person can give to themselves, and to others.

My next step? Continue upgrading the above and consider releasing a need which may no longer be appropriate….I’m still working on this, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Note: Official entry to Abbott Phil. Inc. Essay Writing Contest (for MDs)