Monday, April 14, 2008

Failure Is Our Greatest Strength

"To Err is human..." - Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism, 1709

While heading down my, so far, long path to become a legal drug dealer I have discovered numerous truths along the way. Namely being that this has become one helluva stressful path.

I mean think about it, at work you can make one simple mistake and possibly end some one's life. Accidentally grab the Hydralazine when you were going for the Hydroxyzine, or see QD (once daily) and think its QID (four times daily) and oops, bye bye patient. Miss a Warfarin interaction? Uh oh. On top of that you are expected to perform at a perfect level while cranking out prescriptions like they're drinks at a bar in Boston on St Paddy's Day. Tack on the phones, customers and well you get the idea how difficult it becomes to stay properly focused.

The same thing occurs when you are doing your pre-pharmacy courses. It is well documented that in 21st century America you virtually need a 4.0 GPA to be feel comfortable. Granted, this is an exaggeration, but in essence its true. Your livelihood in your future profession can hang on the fact that you need as many A's on tests as you can get. Slip up and get C's in Organic Chemistry and you could be screwed, forever trying to dig yourself out of the hole you are in. Even then, even through all that struggle, you still might not even get in. Once again you are allotted few, if any, mistakes.

Where am I going with this one may ask? I made a post previously about the future pharmacists of this system. About how those coming out of pharmacy school may be grossly unprepared for the lives they are about to leave. Why? Because they have not had to struggle.

Now this is a generalization because I am sure there are many 4.0's who have sacrificed a lot to get where they are and I applaud you for that. In order to truly understand things however, one must fail. Students with high GPAs, like those usually admitted to pharmacy school's today, rarely have had to deal with such a problem. They have never had to dig themselves out of that hole or worry whether or not that paper they wrote will get them the A they need to pass the class. Struggling builds character, builds inner strength.

I was taught early on in my pharmacy travels that one should never become over confident in his or her abilities. That it is necessary to fail at times, to make mistakes in order to understand our own fallibilities. To question one's own logic can prove to be immensely powering. At that point, and only at that point, can mistakes truly be minimized.

When I have a pharmacy school interview (note: this is not an if but a when as I will not give up on this dream even if it takes the rest of my life) and they ask me why I am a better candidate then the hundreds of others that had applied with me, I am left with an easy explanation. It is not that I want it more, although I want it quite strongly. It is not because I immensely love the field and am a sponge when it comes to learning.

It is because I know that to err is human. That sometimes you have to struggle for what's right, to look beyond what you can see. To know that we have limits to seek the best possible route to minimize those effects. To be able to admit failure and to learn from it. In the end, isn't that what life is all about?


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I know this is 2 years old, I know this was just your own rambling and I still haven't even finished reading everything you wrote but I was taken away when you said students with high gpas have never had to fail.

I don't have a 4.0 but I still think my GPA would be considered high by most. I think our difference is in how we define failure.

For example you mentioned a student having to get an A to pass a class. I HATE to sound like an arrogant moron but I have to tell you, from a pre-pharmacy perspective, that student has more than failed.

As pre-pharmers OF TODAY, we must put ourselves on a different level, it's not about pass or fail, it's about getting the A and not settling for anything less than a B+.

Phathead you've had to manage many things outside of school and undoubtedly have worked harder than many people who have had their parents support them.

But the unfortunate thing is ADCOMs don't see all that. They only see the numbers, not what's behind them.

You probably already realize this, I just thought it was worth mentioning.

Phathead said...

Anon - You more or less justified the point I was making in the post.

It is all about the numbers to the adcom. Granted it has changed over the last few years where some schools do not place as much of a reliance on it, but that is still the status quo.

My main point is that when I do fail, I know how to react. Those who have never had to experience a true failure (and I'm not talking about getting a C in just one class, I'm talking a legit failure) do not know how to react to it. They are completely unaware of what its like to be in a hole of that nature.

Yes I wrote this a long time ago and I have since adjusted my style to offer more clarity, so perhaps I did not emphasize this enough.

It is a screwy system though.

agandhi93 said...

I am a high school senior. I have had to struggle. I have dug myself out of holes. People think getting good grades comes easily but it doesn't. At least not for me. I busted my ass to get my 3.64 gpa and I will bust my balls trying to get an excellent gpa again. Yes, I do get upset with a failure but the next day, I realize that it's not the end of the world. I can ry again tomorrow.

What can adcoms do but look at numbers? How can you compare the difficulties people have gone through?

I have several years left to get out into the real real-world. Hopefully I'll be more prepared then.

agandhi93 said...

By the way, I am glad I found this website a few days ago. I love your posts on failure.

missoptimist5 said...

This what i was looking for: thank you - you have really inspired me :) God bless you :)