We know first hand how difficult, frustrating and confusing life can be as a doctor. It can sometimes be difficult to know where to turn when you’re in need of advice. That’s why we will be offering a weekly advice column – Nadia Knows, hosted by our in-house agony aunt doctor Nadia Masood.
Nadia was a leading figure in the Junior Doctor contract negotiations and will be using her experience as a doctor and her deeper understanding of the health system to answer your questions.
We very much look forward to receiving your questions and hope you find this feature valuable.
I’ve just finished my specialty training in Anaesthesia in London, and after over 10 years of experience of being a junior doctor in the NHS, I’m familiar with many of the challenges that you may face both in your personal and professional lives. I’m here to offer advice and support for any questions you might have for me. I’ll do my very best to help you!
Our first question
A new F1 doctor wrote to us last week seeking advice for something that I think is a very common issue amongst doctors – not feeling “good enough”.
I’ve just started my first F1 job and I feel like I don’t deserve to be here. I had to retake some exams at medical school and even then I felt like I had to work harder than my fellow students to get the same results. Now we’ve started work I feel like I can’t remember anything I learnt and have to look up everything because I don’t trust myself to know the right answers.
The other doctors also seem to be faster and better at their jobs than me, I struggle to complete my jobs list every day and feel anxious if I have to hand jobs over to the on-call team because they will think I’m not a good doctor for not having managed to do them myself during the day. My seniors and the nurses have been really nice to me and don’t say anything, it’s as if they know I am struggling and feel sorry for me. I do really enjoy speaking to the patients though and they seem to like me which is the only reason I haven’t quit yet. But will these feelings go away? I feel like I knew it would be a challenge but I never expected to feel this useless.”
You are good enough and you do deserve to be a doctor. You clearly worked hard at medical school, exam results only tell us how good we are at memorising and regurgitating facts. Academic knowledge and confidence are of course important and useful skills in being a doctor but there is so much more to it than that as well. Don’t feel bad that you have to look things up, I still look things up all the time and I’m sure others do too! To me it shows you are safe and thorough rather than trying to make things up. It’s good that you are managing your workload and time in handing things over to the on-call team (trust me, your jobs list will never end!).
What you’re feeling is something I remember feeling myself, not just when I first started but at various points throughout my career – Imposter syndrome is a common feeling amongst doctors. I can guarantee you that there will be other doctors around you who are having the same thoughts as you, and looking at you thinking “How do they have it so together?” and “Why can’t I be as good as them?”. There are always going to be some doctors who have natural confidence and some who need to work on it – and both types of doctor will be equally as good at their jobs, so please don’t let it put you off. It does sound like you need to believe in yourself more and this is something that will take time. The fact that none of your colleagues have said anything to you is probably because they see a good, hard-working new doctor. Things will get better as you adjust to your role and your confidence will grow as you show yourself what you are capable of. I hope you will see in yourself what I’m sure others see in you already – a bright, caring and hardworking doctor.
If you have a question for Nadia let us know anonymously here
Please remember that nothing you read here should be taken as professional advice and are merely the personal views of the author. If you feel you need to, please seek help from a support service. You can contact the Samaritans on 116 123.