How An Orthopedic Surgeon Deals With The “Imposter Syndrome”

I suspect that everybody reading this post is familiar with the “Imposter Syndrome.” It is the feeling, held by many very successful people, that things are “too good.” That they can’t really have achieved what they really have achieved. AND. They are going to be found out, and their success will all disappear!!!

Check this out. The story of a young and successful shoulder surgeon who suffered from Imposter Syndrome her whole life, and especially when she entered medical practice. I’ve thought about this. Picture the very first time this doctor, or any surgeon, is “on her own” in the operating room. No supervising physician present. She is the captain of the ship. As she raises the scalpel for the first time to cut into a patient’s body, is there any way that she or any right-minded surgeon would not ask herself, “Am I really qualified to do this?”  “Nah, I am an imposter.” “They are going to find me out, but by then it will be too late for this patient on the table in front of me.”

As an amusing aside, one of the worst attacks of IS this doctor had was when she went big time into social media. Other orthopedists weren’t doing this. What made her qualified to do so?   

Though the diagnosis of Imposter Syndrome was only brought forth in 1978, I am betting that physicians, and particularly surgeons, had had that feeling decades, if not centuries, before its publication.

Bottom Line. The good news is that this blogging physician figured out how to cope with IS, and even has a website to mentor physicians on how to cope. Know your strengths, listen to the supportive things that people say about you, AND embrace your failures. Realizing that you overcame them will make you stronger.  

I am guessing that it is not just physicians that can benefit from these insights!

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