Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

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Always assume the worst case scenario and work backwards from there.”

This is how we (medicine and nursing) think in the ER. We come at it from slightly different angles but the end result is the same. Medicine uses the paradigm of the “differential diagnosis,” which is really just a process of elimination. The doc looks at the patient and, based on symptoms and presentation, will begin eliminating worst-case scenarios.

Nurses, on the other hand, are more concerned about the nuts and bolts of the situation. When people are critically ill and/or dying there isn’t a lot of time to dick around thinking about what to do next. You learn to think five steps ahead so that you’re ready when shit goes south – and oh my friend, make no mistake – it will go south.

But if you already assumed it was going south, you’re good. You know exactly how to respond because you’ve played out this scenario, or something very close, many times before – even if some of them were only in your mind.

Mind you, I’m not saying that this is a good way to live your life outside of a profession that demands it.

But it sure can come in handy if the situation requires it.