As a physician I’ve long been struck by the observation that the best doctors are not those with the largest scope of knowledge or skills. Rather, the finest clinicians are the ones who know what they don’t know. Being comfortable with our vast areas of ignorance makes us safe for patients. We can learn the answers to clinically important questions. These days, most facts are as close as the smart phones we carry in purse or pocket. Or we can refer a patient to a colleague. Over the course of my career, acknowledging that I don’t know something has become easier as I’ve grown more self confident.
And what I’ve learned as a practitioner—knowing my limits—carries over to my role as an administrator. I am no expert in many of the areas of management: e.g., human resources, finance, accounting, legal, and more. But I have grown comfortable in saying “I don’t know” and asking others. In a world of growing complexity, it’s reassuring to be part of a team.
- Alan J. Gelenberg, M.D.
Editor, Biological Therapies in Psychiatry
Shively-Tan Professor and Chair, Psychiatry, Penn State University
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry