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Consider the following quote: "To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing." - Aristotle  

Sample CASPer Questions:

1. Describe what this quote means to you.

To me, this quote is all about the sacrifices you make when you decide to grow or change for the better. No matter how well-intentioned you were, there will always be people criticizing you. In cases, when criticism is warranted, you will still have to decide how to incorporate it in a healthy and productive manner, which isn’t always realistic. In my view, Aristotle is also saying that it’s difficult to know when to accept, ignore, or give criticism. Understanding this balance is an important part of maturation and self-improvement. Discerning how to handle criticism from any vantage point requires introspection and an analysis of the motives of the critic. This distinction ought to be embraced, rather than neglected, even though it can feel discouraging at times. 

2. How is this quote important and relevant to your role as a future practicing professional?

As a practicing professional, I think it will be important to recognize that there will be people who disagree or who want to criticize you for unfounded reasons. There are, however, good reasons to criticize someone, such as conversations about performance and discussing approaches, that can make them a better practicing professional. Physicians and other medical professionals benefit greatly from hearing the different perspectives of their respective colleagues and collaborators. I think it will be important for my future as a practicing medical professional to learn how to distinguish healthy criticism from unhealthy criticism. It’s unrealistic to think that any professional can take every piece of criticism or feedback. However, being receptive and open to feedback will help me identify ways to diversify my knowledge and refine my methods to deliver better care for my patients. 

3. Describe a time when you openly criticized a superior or an authority figure. What were the results of your actions? 

In my second year of university, I was taking a calculus course that was being taught by a teacher’s assistant. During the first class, we were discussing one of the chapters of the textbook on Plato’s cave allegory and the purpose of philosophy. The lecture was an hour long, and the teacher spent the entire class discussing the significance of Plato as a historical figure. I was among a few other students who were bothered by the lack of class discussion and participation. After the class ended and the room had cleared, I approached the TA to ask if she had a moment to talk. She enthusiastically agreed. I started off by explaining that the lecture was informative and that I appreciated the level of detail she put into the lesson. Then, I told her that from my perspective, it would be better to have more class discussions. This, I explained, could lead to a healthy debate and a better grasp of the concepts. She thought that this was a good idea and thanked me for my suggestion. For the rest of the semester, we spent at least a quarter of an hour discussing the concepts we’d read about in textbooks before transitioning into lecture material. 

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