Back when I was an undergraduate student, before my internship, one of our professors told us: “To patients, you are doctors, not just students. You may start things like an amateur, but it doesn’t matter, because practice will make you an experienced doctor. So, you don’t have to worry too much when beginning your clinical practice.” Then he told us the old Chinese story of the oil peddler (English translation is from here)
During the Northern Song Dynasty, there was a skilled archer. One day he drew a big crowd while he was practicing on the drill ground. He shot so accurately that the on-lookers cheered with excitement. He became very proud of his skill. But among the crowd an old oil peddler only nodded his head indifferently. This hurt his Pride. He asked the old oil peddler:
-”Can you do this?”
-”No, I can’t.”
-”What do you think of my skill?”
-”Just OK, but nothing special. You’ve gained your accuracy from persistent practice. That’s all.”
-”What can you do, then?”
The old man said nothing. He put a gourd bottle on the ground and covered its mouth with a copper coin. He then scooped out a ladle of oil from his big jar, held it high and began to fill the bottle. Now, a thread of oil came down from the ladle into the bottle just through the hole of the coin. Everybody looking on watched with amazement. But the old man said, “This is nothing special, I can do this because I have practiced it a lot.” And with these words, he left.
Later, people use this phrase to mean “Practice makes perfect”.
I have this story in my mind all the time. I still remember when I just started working as an intern doctor, I was worried about my lack of experience. But I encouraged myself: that’s okay, it’s not a big deal – I cannot remember everything from the beginning. I will do it better in the future by repeating my practice.
“Practice makes perfect” – it’s like a magic spell for me and makes me much more confident. Now I’m a doctor full of confidence. I believe that if I keep on working hard and practicing, I will become a great doctor.
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