The Pursuit of Excellence in Healthcare

Today in a discussion about what makes an excellent clinician a colleague suggested that he didn’t like the concept of ‘excellent’ because it implied aiming to be perfect – which obviously (perhaps) one can’t achieve.

I reject this assertion.

We need some assumptions. Yes – we can’t be perfect – but we can excel.

The dictionary definition(s) of excellence is:

1. the state or quality of excelling or being exceptionally good; extreme merit; superiority
2. an action, characteristic, feature, etc., in which a person excels

I’d like to propose a different definition of excellence that ignores perfection. Being excellent means always trying to be better and to do better. I believe this is the intent of pursuing excellence in healthcare. And yes – for some of the consumers this will be a perfect outcome.

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