There is a popular theory that 10,000 hours of practice will make an individual excel in that chosen area of expertise.

Professor Anders Ericsson conducted the research into what makes ordinary people extraordinary.

This research was the inspiration for the 10,000 hours rule.

The professor says that it is not any type of practice that matters but a particular type of extended practice ‘deliberate practice’  that leads to exceptional performance.

We’ve all been there sitting through the interminable inservice that has been provided by our employer.

The benefit of attending is that it is another hour that contributes to you meeting the yearly hours of continuous professional development that you have to do.

The downside is that there is no or little improvement in your clinical practice that occurs.

Professor Ericsson’s book, Peak. Secrets from the Science of Expertise, was co-authored by Robert Pool.

Peak describes how 

1. most athletes are not born with any natural advantage, 

2. three sister’ parents planned for them to become world -class chess players before they were born and

3. Mozart was not born with perfect pitch.

It’s not the hours that are important but how you use them. 

The focus of health professional training has been on acquiring knowledge.

The traditional approach has been to provide the information about the right way to proceed.

And then rely upon the student applying that knowledge.

Somehow the student learns about how to perform without anyone ensuring that they can do it.

They may have the knowledge about how to do it.

But it’s not until someone shows them, they can become expert at it.

The bottom line is that it is not what you know but what you are able to do.

There is a tendency to focus on knowledge at the expense of skills.

As Ericsson and Pool say

The main reasons are tradition and convenience: it is much easier to present knowledge to a large group of people that it is to set up conditions under which individuals can develop skills through practice.

It is assumed that as go about your day to day work and accumulate all those hours of practice that you will inevitably get better.

But the reality is different, people don’t get much better and sometimes they will actually be worse.

What is clear is that you cannot gain expertise from experience alone.

To learn more about expertise: