Dear Student: It’s okay to not know.

“I don’t know.”

It’s a scary thing to say. It’s a scary thing to not know. It’s scary to be wrong. It’s scary to make mistakes.

Being in a medical field makes it a very scary thing to not know the things we are “supposed” to know. I lived with that fear for a long time when I was a student in my final year of medical school. It was incredibly scary that I was expected to suddenly be a doctor and manage patients lives because I learnt so much but I felt like I knew so little!

Then I graduated. I became an intern. I lived the life I was so scared of. Of course, there are frightening moments but sometimes you remember things you didn’t even know you knew. Sometimes you’re afforded the luxury of time to look things up. Sometimes you make a mistake. I’ve seen all sorts of situations and every time I remember: we’re just human. We can never be anything more than that. We’ll never know all the things and we are constantly in the process of learning. And that’s okay.

I’ve been there and done that. I’ve wished that I was brave enough to say that I didn’t know. I’ve taken that with me and I’m being more accepting of not knowing so that I can learn better. I was often too afraid because the teachers in allopathic medicine are often mean and condescending when someone doesn’t know, except for the few kind outliers.

FullSizeRender 43Dear student, you’re still a student. You’ve just began the process of learning this art of medicine. There’s so much to gain. This is the best time to not know! You’re being guided. I’m constantly amazed at the kindness of our teachers. They’re kind because they know you’re learning. They are here to teach you, to pass on their knowledge and their experiences.

The beauty of the Chinese Medicine program is that everything we learnt in year 1 is constantly reviewed in one way or another for the rest of the program – for the rest of our lives.

So, dear student, right now, it’s okay to not know.

The more pressure you place on a growing container, the less expandable it becomes and the less you can fit into it.


One comment

  1. […] So far, we’ve done a few observation shifts in our clinic and soon we’ll become much more involved. As we start making this transition, there’s a common concern that has come up with a number of my classmates (which goes hand-in-hand with not knowing). […]


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