Is It Important To Be Perfect To Be A Nurse?

Many nurses I know are perfectionist. Every detail matters and they generally get every detail correct. They ask themselves “Did I forget anything?” “Did I do that correctly?” “Did I make a mistake?”

Perfectionism may be admired by others but it will eventually take its toll. There is enough stress in being a nursing student or being a nurse. We don’t need to add more stress by listening to our own self-doubts and inner critic.

I have heard many nursing students lamenting that they didn’t get an A in a particular class. Always striving to be perfect and getting A’s can rob you of the joys in life. Making everything important causes you to lose sight of what is really important. Are your general education classes as important as the classes you are taking for your major focus of study? Do you really think that it is critically important to get an A in ALL your nursing classes? I can assure you that no one in a hiring or evaluating position has ever asked what grades I received in college nor for that matter has an employer ever asked what my scores where on my nursing boards. All they cared about was if I graduated and if I passed my nursing boards.

Once you enter the workforce striving for perfection causes you to be unnecessarily tough on yourself. You may find yourself plateauing in your job because you do not take on new risks, tasks, or challenges because you fear that you may not be perfect especially at first.

Nurse entrepreneurs may find themselves focusing on what they don’t want instead of what they do want. Focus is on not failing instead of on succeeding. Perfectionism can cause nurse entrepreneurs to work past the point of diminishing return or prevent them from developing the necessary flexibility that is important to be a successful entrepreneur. Creativity and innovation can be dramatically hampered by striving to be perfect.

Understanding the 80/20 rule would be extremely useful for anyone struggle with perfectionism. I will discuss this in greater detail in next month’s posting.

In summary, perfectionism can actually interfere with your success. There are some who misguidedly still value perfectionism, but they do not understand the negative implications of heading down this destructive path. It is important to understand and embrace the idea that done is better than perfect.