It occurs to me, having seen a lot of colleagues and students over the years with a similar trait, that I am not alone in being a touch obsessive.
Just a touch. I'm not talking about obsession that meets the World Health Organisation's rather splendid Internaional Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) diagnosis for F60.5 Anankastic Personality Disorder or for F42.0 Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with Predominantly Obsessive Thoughts or Ruminations. I'm talking 'bout just a touch of being more meticulous and fussy and obsessive than necessary.
And this trait is surprisingly common in medics.
It can be annoying. I knew a scrub nurse who'd bemoan a surgeon who always has things set out "his way" and another who does it differently for the same procedure. She gave him the instruments, what did it matter how it was set out on her tray? It mattered to the surgeon. It had to be done just so in order to be right. I've work with an anaethetist who aligns stationery in out patient clinics (and will re-align pencils and paper if it's not all in place).
Small things. People wanting to have influence over their working environment. Nothing too neurotic or compulsive.
But I don't tend to see the same in the local supermarket, in my local garage, or even from one of the three solicitors I was recently paying when moving house. And I've sadly had to spent a lot of hours in all three locales!
Medicine maybe attracts those with obsessive traits. But since we enter medical school at a relatively young age, I'm not sure that people are self selecting for a career in medicine because it will suit their temprement.
I think it's more likely that medicine inculcates obsessive traits.
It's a good thing.
When a patient is wondering what's wrong with them you want a medic who's thinking, "What were the results of Test X and do we now need to do Test Y and Scan Z to exclude conditions A, B and C?" You want someone thinking, "It is unlikely, with only 3 cases reported in the UK ever, but it could fit so we better exclude Condition Blah." When a referral gets lost in the internal post, when a result isn't 'phoned through, when a GP's not been told of interventions isn't it great that medics are obsessive enough to check out and 'phone up to "sort things out" and make sure all is well?
I think so.
Not being meticulous, not making sure everything is done, not checking . . . being very relaxed and cavalier about it all is not reassuring to me.
Which is why I think being a touch obsessive, although potentially quirky or eccentric, is healthy. It means checking, it means getting things done thoroughly and getting them done right. If my wife or kids need to see a doctor I'd rather they saw someone who was also a touch obsessive!