Back to Blog

Imposter Syndrome

Jun 22, 2019

Here’s a post for those of you who are new to family medicine. And for the seasoned of us who are struggling with Impostor Syndrome.

After more than 17 years of being a family doctor I feel very comfortable going to my day job. I feel as though I can handle most personalities in the consult room, have a fair idea how to meet and address concerns for my patients and have a good idea how I will initiate investigation or manage most complaints. Not in a boastful way, but in an “I’ve seen most things before” kind of way.

I am also comfortable telling someone they are complicated or rare or may take me a couple of consultations to figure out.

My complex diagnostic dilemma patients will tell you that they have often been recalled as I have had the answer come to me as I am pondering their case during a spell of insomnia or I have woken up with the answer.

No, I’m not saying I have special powers. It is my belief that often our brains need space and we ponder our patients with complex symptoms when we have that reflection time.

If I was to have a call from the clinic saying “we know you had a day off scheduled but we messed up and have 30 patients booked in and we want to know if you can see them” I would not have to prepare, or get anxious. If I chose to go in to work, then I would just go in and get to work.

As you learn a new skill you will be uncomfortable.

We need to learn to be uncomfortable and do it anyway or alternatively we could give up.

Giving up feels easier and initially way more comfortable, all that stress just goes away.

However, then we will never realize our dreams. The dream to be a comfortable well seasoned family doctor or any future dream you have for yourself.

Your brain will tell you that “you have never done this before and so it can’t be done” or “you can’t do it” or “who are you to think you can do this”.

Our brain is programmed this way. Just recognizing that this is chatter and normal can be so helpful.

Additionally, it means you are doing it right, you are stretching yourself into a new goal or a new future for yourself.

Discomfort will be your new reality for a while.

As Brooke Castillo says “Discomfort is the currency of your dreams”.

As I learned to become a life coach I had to learn a brand new skill set. I hadn’t done this before. I knew I really wanted to help my family physician colleagues learn the amazing life changing and career changing skills that I had learned, but it was still a new skill.

My model was:

Circumstance: Clients booking in to be coached by me

Thought: I Haven’t mastered this yet

Feeling: Self Doubt

Action: Avoidance with buffering (Facebook or food), studying and learning and wondering if I will ever be at ease with coaching, procrastinating.

Result: I did not feel like I had mastered it.

It felt just like when I started in Family Medicine. I would try and avoid the uncomfortable feeling of inadequacy with eating, doing mindless tasks like Facebook or TV, study and learn because I didn’t feel like I knew enough.

But I know that I can become comfortable and I can do that right now.

It is not time, experience or hours of learning that makes you feel comfortable. It is what you chose to think right now about your circumstance.

You can spend an eternity learning how to be a great doctor, you could have years of experience and still never be “comfortable”.

That’s why we can still have impostor syndrome after many years on the job.

It’s all about your thoughts.


Now I am not talking about being incompetent and still being comfortable, clearly you must put the time into learning the skills and knowledge.

But the actual feeling of comfortable is all about how you are thinking about your circumstance.

Let’s take my current model of Family Medicine

Circumstance: I am a Family Physician

Thought: “I haven’t mastered this yet”

I say this because none of us ever will truly be masterful in every single area of family medicine.

Feeling: Comfortable

Action: Comfortable with talking to patients about any issue or diagnosis, comfortable with my role as a family physician

Result: Moving toward mastering Family Medicine


I wanted to encourage you all that you do not have to be an expert to feel comfortable right now.

In fact, you may indeed be an expert and you might still be feeling Self Doubt.

Have a look at the thoughts you are choosing to think about your circumstance. I encourage you to write them down. Looking at them on paper helps you get out of your head and actually see your thoughts.

Be curious and be compassionate.

Are those thoughts the thoughts you want to keep thinking. Are they true?

Remember our thoughts are ALWAYS optional!

You can choose to think whatever you want about your circumstance.

You are a Family Physician!

What do you think about that ?!?

xx Sarah, the Charting Coach

PS. I would love to help you with your charting problem!

Head to and Sign up for Charting Champions Program Today

Any questions email: [email protected]


#chartingcoach #physicianburnoutprevention

Don't miss a beat!

Stay connected to The Charting Coach! New blog posts delivered to your inbox. 

By clicking the sign up button, you are subscribing to The Charting Coach and agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use , including receiving emails.