I Finally Realized I Was a Good Doctor

Do you recall your first year as an attending and what that was like? For me, it was a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs practicing as an emergency physician in a semi-rural town in Illinois. But once I found my stride and confidence as an attending physician about 12 months in, I recall distinctly knowing to my core that I was a good doctor. 

I was strong in my clinical knowledge. I was able to connect with my patients. In fact, they would often ask if I had a private practice and if I could be their private doctor. 

I always acted with integrity. I put the best interest of my patients first even if it meant I would leave my leave my shift hours late or the patient might be upset and give me a bad patient survey when they didn’t get a narcotic for pain that could be treated with an NSAID or an antibiotic for what I knew was a viral illness. 

Why Did It Take Me So Long To Believe I Was a Good Doctor?

Somewhere down the line between quarterly RVU productivity reports, Press-Ganey scores, and biannual hospital credentialing reappointments a few years into being an attending, I found myself feeling as though I needed to constantly prove to the world that I was a good doctor. 

It bothered me that administrators and directors put such heavy emphasis on metrics such as these because, after a while, many of my colleagues and I felt like our worth was based on these numbers. 

Or perhaps for some, it’s not these numbers, but it’s the amount you get paid that determines your worth. I hear this from some primary care doctors who feel as though they aren’t as worthy because they don’t earn as much as a specialist or a surgeon. 

Thinking that any of these numbers determine our worth, leads us to hustling our way to self-worth. We keep thinking we have to do more, see more patients, produce more RVUs, and get better patient satisfaction scores. 

We think we have to get the promotion or practice somewhere else where we can earn more. Or we decide we need to go specialize and get more training or get another degree and THEN we will feel worthy. The problem is, THEN never arrives and we stay on a hamster wheel of unworthiness.  

Your Self-Worth Is Inherent

Sister Doc, it’s time to put an end to this once and for all. I want you to know you are worthy already. Right now, as you are. 

I love this quote by the actress Viola Davis: “You were born worthy and I think that’s a message a lot of women need to hear.”

You as a person are worthy. You don’t have to do anything to prove your worth to anyone. 

Your worth cannot be gained, given, or taken away. You were born worthy and you will always be. Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to show you love and appreciation – parents, significant others, bosses, directors, administrators. 

How To Change Your Mindset

Now that we know our self-worth is inherent and can’t be taken away and that you don’t have to prove it, what now? It’s simple. 

You get to decide that you are a great doctor. 

When you do, you will start to notice all the evidence that you are. The words of appreciation and gratitude from patients and staff. The patients that you have helped. The lives that you saved or impacted for the better. You can also decide not to give RVUs and Press Ganey scores much importance because you know those numbers don’t define your worth or how great a doctor you really are. That’s what I did and how I finally stepped back into knowing and truly believing I was a great doctor again.   

You will also get to work on the most important relationship that you have and that is the relationship you have with yourself. 

You can show yourself love and compassion. You can let go of the inner critic that constantly wants to judge and second guess or tell us that we aren’t good enough. 

Instead, we can tell ourselves new intentional thoughts like:

  • I’m 100% worthy.
  • I’m deserving of good things in life.
  • My voice is important.
  • I make a difference.
  • I’m impacting and influencing patients every day.
  • I matter.
  • I can do anything I set my mind to.
  • I love myself no matter what. 
  • I’m doing the best that I can with what I’ve been given. 

Sister Docs, remember that you are worthy. You were born worthy. Speak to yourself with self-love, always.

An important thing you can do is to build a community of like-minded sister docs around you. Women that inspire you and that you look up to. You can remind each other that you can do anything you put your mind to or that you are an amazing doctor.

If you aren’t sure how to connect with sister docs outside of your hospital or clinic, Women in White Coats is a great place to start. We have a private Facebook group for sister docs that we’d love to invite you to join. You can come to ask questions, find support, learn about our wellness program, and so much more. Click here to join our Facebook group. Can’t wait to see you there! 

Archana Shrestha, MD is a physician, life coach, speaker and entrepreneur in Chicago. She is the Cofounder and Chief Wellness Officer at Women in White Coats and co-author of “The Chronicles of Women in White Coats” book series. Learn more about her by going to MightyMomMD.com. She can be followed on Instagram @MightyMomMD

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