Medical Mnemonist Podcast

Turning Failure and Persistence into Success

Chase DiMarco shares tips for dealing with failure in medical school and healthcare education. Failure can be the beginning rather than the end.

  • [00:20] Why We Need to Talk About Failure
  • [01:30] Feelings Surrounding Failure
  • [03:51] How to Overcome Failure
  • [05:25] Failures Involving Board Exams
  • [06:57] Chase’s Failures
  • [09:01] How Chase Persisted to Convert His Failures into Successes
  • [11:25] Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan (WOOP)

Failure in Medicine

Failure is inevitable, but it can be a starting point, rather than an endpoint. Think about your struggles with failure; be they academic, occupational, or social. You can transform these negative associations with failure into opportunities for growth. As Chase puts it: “Failure + Persistence = Success.”

When we fail, we are often bombarded with thoughts such as “I cannot believe I did this again,” or “I am just not good enough.” Research indicates that this is not an optimal mindset for your education. So, how do you turn these failures into successes? First, think about whether the failure was actually your fault. For example, if 98% of your class failed a test, perhaps the instructor insufficiently prepared the class for the test. In these situations, do not get trapped in your thoughts. Let it go.

However, if you do see a solution that you can implement, then do so. Consider the example of preparing for a board exam. If you realize that you are failing practice tests, then take steps to improve. Practice self-exploration and self-awareness, and reach out to people who can help you. Talk to peers who have gone through the exam, incorporate evidence-based study techniques, or maybe even delay your exam schedule until you are better prepared.

Chase himself delayed his graduation date, made excuses about his performance, has been guilty of not implementing proper study techniques, and has often neglected his mental and physical health. The 1-Minute Preceptor podcast and his book Read This Before Medical School are both products of his initial failure. They are also both examples of how a small failure can be the seed for much greater success.

Getting Past Your Failures

Do not just read this post and walk away. Think back on your failure points. What have you done to mitigate your weaknesses? Can you pre-plan for possible failures? If you have neglected physical activity, can you buy some weights to use at home? If you have neglected social interaction, can you join meetups around the city? Be proactive, conscious, and intentional about bettering yourself. One concrete framework for planning for future failures is the Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan (WOOP) framework, which was discussed in Episode 31 of this podcast with Dr. Daniel Saddawi-Konefka.

One day, or Day One — you choose.

Sign up for a Free Coaching session with Chase DiMarco, sponsored by Prospective Doctor! You can also join the Med Mnemonist Mastermind FB Group today and learn more about study methods, memory techniques, and MORE! Also, do check out Read This Before Medical School.

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Chase DiMarco

Chase DiMarco is an MS, MBA-HA and MD/Ph.D-candidate. He is the founder of FreeMedEd, a free medical education resource, the host of the Medical Mnemonist 1-Minute Preceptor podcasts by MedSchoolCoach, creator of several medical education platforms, and CEO of FindARotation clinical rotations service.

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