Practicing on autopilot
During the first few years of practice, it's not unusual to dig through textbooks, go online, or read up on cases during spare time. But somewhere around the third year of practice, most of us gain a level of comfort with medicine that stems late-night reading. We go on autopilot.
The autopilot feature isn't necessarily a bad thing; it generally means you've developed enough confidence in your skills that practice becomes more routine. Productivity and efficiency soar because you aren't second-guessing yourself as often. With a few more years under your belt, you'll likely be on autopilot even more often.
Frankly, most of us need the reminder. As general practitioners, we're facing new challenges, but we may not be seeing them as clearly as we could because we're so comfortable.
From a liability standpoint, we're expected to be experts in almost all areas of medicine. Yet a series of animal law and liability sessions I attended at the North American Veterinary Conference last January showed that, as a profession, we're clearly unprepared for upcoming changes in malpractice law.
So turn off your autopilot a few times a day. Stop to think for yourself, and double-check your work. Yes, mistakes are part of life—but the legal community isn't very forgiving. So make sure you're still learning from your mistakes. And, in fact, be sure you're still learning in general—whether you're a new grad or a seasoned professional.