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Olympics and Medicine – Ready, Steady, GO!

Submitted by on August 14, 2012 – 2:37 AM

…breath-taking, exhilarating, and world class performances. The London Olympics drew to a close allowing the inhabitants of Great Britain time to pause for thought. The games motivate, inspire and create new athletes across the world. However, is this moment of pride, this sense of achievement at having hosted a successful Olympics a counterproductive reflection?


After all, Olympic champions spend years on their craft with one goal in mind; to be the best. Were they to be satisfied with their achievements and spend time basking in their glory, surely they would be passed by other more focussed individuals.


The world of medicine is not dissimilar. Medical students are renowned for trying to get ahead of others in their race to a continually refreshing finish line. The push to write a journal, the urge to present at international conferences and indeed the desire to write for a fantastic blogging organisation are for many only a means to an end. The world of medicine is fantastically competitive and it is by no means the smartest student who develops into the most successful doctor. Medical students will scream, punch, kick and bite to get past their colleagues.


Feeling depressed? Well perhaps there is good reason to be so, but on the plus side it means the doctors at the top will be those that were most driven, most enthused and most eager to get there. This will have come from innumerable hours of study, and painstaking work in libraries and clinical environments for something they could never ascertain they would achieve. Surely this dedication is in the interest of the patient. And so what if we demonstrate cannibalistic tendencies with our colleagues in our approach to the top? At least when we get there, we will be well equipped to patch them up.


But take a moment. Ever wondered why ‘ready, steady, go’ has the word ‘steady’ in it? No, me neither. But perhaps it’s there to help calm this competitiveness that lives in us. Yes we live in a dog eat dog world and yes the desire to enhance ones Curriculum Vitae (CV) should be encouraged, but should that come at the expense of your colleagues, your family and social life, and most importantly your own principles? Being the best does not always equate to being the most liked and it is far better to enhance your CV with things you enjoy. Next time you see an opportunity. Step back, and ponder. Yes you may win gold but is there more to your life than this?


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