Am I an Impostor?!

So I started this blog to share with you my ups and downs of training. And because I realised I had too much to say for Instagram! I’m a pretty positively-minded person: obviously I’ve had my down times, same as anyone else (and perhaps worse) but I’ve always believed that I have the power to change my situation- even if that is simply my attitude towards it- so that I feel happier.

Today that was a bit tricky to do. It wasn’t even for any particular reason. I was just suffering from:



(That always works better if you know the music)

If you’ve not heard of it, that doesn’t mean you’ve never experienced it. It’s the feeling that maybe you’re not quite good enough for the role you have; maybe you don’t know as much as people think you should; maybe you know less; crucially, when is everyone going to catch on that you don’t quite know exactly what you’re talking about??!

As a medical doctor, this hits you hard when you first come out of medical school. As a student, no-one expected you to have all the answers, but now you’ve graduated, they think that overnight you suddenly can. A bit like when you become 18, and suddenly you are legally an adult but your mum is still really the only one who knows what you’re supposed to be doing…

And then, with time, you adjust (new doctors/final years, I PROMISE that’s true). Seven years post graduation, I’ve seen lots of common situations and a fair few uncommon ones in medicine. Medicine is really a lot of pattern spotting- x + y symptoms coupled with w + z –> this patient has V. I’ve become comfortable; not unchallenged, it’s just that I know how to handle many things and when I need to call for help.

In my academic life, I’m out of my comfort zone. This is at once thrilling and incredibly daunting. Most people also expect medical doctors to just know…everything (many doctors think they do too!). Some of the basic science of what I’m doing, I’ve not done for over a decade. I only picked up a pipette (laboratory essential) for the first time ever last year. I’m currently working on a project involving such cutting edge technology and scientific techniques that many scientists are struggling to keep up with.

So today, it weighed me down a little. I’m lucky to be surrounded by a lovely team that were happy to hear me out and help me out. And I realised that the whole point of what I’m doing IS to learn. My brain might feel like it’s exploding at times, but I can hold a reasonable conversation now about what I’m doing. I even managed to work with a Biology student today to run my own breath sample on the lab equipment.

So no, I’m not an impostor. I’m essentially a student. We all are in one fashion or other.

Not knowing is never really a problem; not caring is.

And the only reason we should be looking back is to see how far we’ve come.

The progress might be slow, but I’m getting there.


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