How to Build a Growth Mindset in Medicine

January 26, 2023

Do you believe that your skills, intelligence and abilities can be developed over time? Or do you believe that your talents are mostly fixed, meaning that if you’re not really good at something now, you probably won’t ever be great at it? These are critical questions to ask yourself. That’s because the way you answer indicates what kind of mindset you have — a growth mindset or a closed mindset.

How you view, interpret and act on decisions, problems and challenges in your life can play a significant role in your success and happiness. Or it can hold you back from being the person — and physician — you want to be.

American psychologist Carol Dweck is credited for identifying two main types of mindsets. This theory has since been used across industries and throughout leadership training. Take a look before to identify your mindset.

  • A growth mindset is a belief that with hard work, desire and perseverance, most people can develop and improve their talents, abilities, and intelligence. This means most challenges aren’t impossible, they just take time and training to master. I growth mindset generally starts with “I can.”
  • A fixed mindset is a belief that a person’s talent and intelligence are more or less innate — you either have certain characteristics or you don’t. In other words, there are ‘gifted’ people and there’s everyone else. Those with fixed mindsets do not believe they (or anyone else for that matter) can significantly improve their innate qualities. A fixed mindset often starts with “I can’t” or “I’ll never be able to do that.”

Research has found that those with a growth mindset are able to achieve more. This is because these individuals are constantly learning and challenging themselves. In fact, a growth mindset can help foster resilience, cooperation and an overall more positive attitude. This is because those with a growth mindset see failure as a learning opportunity.

Having a growth mindset is particularly essential in the healthcare field. Doctors and residents face tremendous stress. A growth mindset can help medical professionals better cope and prevent burnout.

There’s no shortage of examples of the great things that can be accomplished with a growth mindset.

At Microsoft, Satya Nadella made it his mission to revamp the leadership and the culture at Microsoft with a growth mindset after taking over in 2014. In his book, Hit Refresh, Nadella explains that mindsets– specifically helping employees at the company develop growth mindsets– were his tool for taking Microsoft to the next level.

After more than a decade of static market capitalization and share price, Nadella helped usher in a new era for Microsoft, one in which the company’s market capitalization and stock price more than tripled. Pfizer, too, credits a growth mindset for the company’s success and growth.

How to develop a growth mindset.

Developing a growth mindset takes patience and practice. One of the keys in developing a growth mindset is to help yourself view everything that happens in your career as an opportunity to reflect, learn and improve your skills. Begin to see challenges as a way to improve your skill.

If you fail, don’t talk negatively to yourself. Instead, reflect on what you could have done better or what you would do differently next time.

A growth mindset also means you don’t rely on others for praise. Instead, reward yourself on a job well done or on ways you’ve improved from the past.

To adopt a growth mindset you must push yourself out of established comfort zones and be open to new ways of doing things. Take on new challenges, adopt a new hobby and you’ll be well on your way to building a growth mindset.

This mindset will help you be a better provider and leader.

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