Residency and the Craftsman Mentality

From Cal Newport’s excellent Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World:

Whether you’re a writer, marketer, consultant, or lawyer: Your work is craft, and if you hone your ability and apply it with respect and care, then like the skilled wheelwright you can generate meaning in the daily efforts of your professional life.

You don’t need a rarified job; you need instead a rarified approach to your work.

Let’s add “physician” to Newport’s list.

One of the more disheartening aspects of medical school is the siloing of medical specialties such that different breeds of doctors appear to compete in the hospital and medical students come away with the idea that one specialty should spark passion in their hearts (and that they will be professionally unhappy if they then don’t match into that one specialty).

It doesn’t have to be this way.

The satisfaction of professional growth and a job well done can transcend specialty choice. If the results of the match weren’t what you wanted, apply yourself to developing a craftsmen’s mentality. Get good at what you do, take pride in it, and passion can follow.




Seth Hardy 05.14.21 Reply

I wholeheartedly agree, but many in our industry have trouble with the fact that medical schools and residencies are trade schools and apprenticeships respectively. Among people with titles within academia there is too much ego and cognitive dissonance for this concept to take root.

Leave a Reply