Turning Weakness Into Strength
Medical student Daniel Heffner, writing in the Canadian Medical Association Journal about how his learning disability is making him a better doctor:
“Here I am, a third-year medical student in the heart of my clinical clerkship year. Clerkship requires fast and efficient learning. The conundrum: learning in a constantly accelerating environment with a disability that slows me down. But I have one weapon: the determination to stick with something until I succeed. Something my childhood taught me in spades.
The hardest part of this journey has been learning to accept a part of me that I have kept hidden not only from the outside world, but also from myself. For years, I was afraid of the stigma that often comes with revealing a deeply personal and little-understood weakness. Yet only when I accepted my issues could I work through them and finally learn to cope.
Now as a medical student, I look at things differently. When I see the new challenges and struggles my patients face in tackling their new diagnoses, addictions and disabilities, I’m reminded of my personal struggle in tackling my disability. I feel the frustration they feel when their health care goals and challenges are not properly understood by those who care for them, just as my disability was at times not understood by those in charge of my education. In a system where so many are lost to follow-up, I see the power of what we as physicians can accomplish for our patients when we advocate for them, the same way those who advocated for me made such a positive impact on my life.
What once seemed like such a burden now serves as my greatest asset in being compassionate toward my patients. It makes me human.” Read more here.
A very powerful affirmation of the notion that sometimes our “weaknesses” can turn out to be our greatest strengths. Are you better at what you do now because of your past struggles?