Pictograph showing Imposter Syndrome
As a professional female, you are statistically very likely to feel Imposter Syndrome, over and over in your life. When you change roles, when you do a presentation, when take on a new task or responsibility. This is the nature of having high standards of yourself. So embrace that this is just part of the job description, and recognize it when it pops up, so you can label it as what it is, and then move on!

When you do feel Imposter Syndrome rear it’s head, do the following:
Focus on Growth/Learning & Recognize Perfect Is Failure
In medicine, that is constantly changing and evolving, to strive for “perfect” implies that at some point you will reach it and stop. This in itself is a failure, because anytime you stop growing/learning in medicine you become stagnant and outdated.

Recognize then that continued growth and learning is the goal, and strive to learn something new every day.
Write Yourself a Letter of Recommendation
Writing yourself a letter of recommendation, with all the care, support and kindness you would a colleague, helps you recognize and identify all of your amazing qualities and accomplishments.
When we hear about other’s accomplishments, before presentations, reading bios, or when it's listed all at once, it is the professional high-light reel. It can feel daunting when you compare yourself to these high-light reels.

However, if you make your own bio intro, or write your own letter of recommendation, with the same kindness and focus on the positive you would for a friend, you’ll realize how impressive you sound!
Write Down your Biggest Fears & Consequences
Often our biggest fears are much much bigger in our minds than in reality. Making a list of your biggest fears, along with the consequences of those fears coming true, and what the aftermath/follow up would be, helps you diminish and eliminate those fears.

Ex: “I’m afraid I will get a case and not know what to do.”
Consequence- I will have to ask for help on the case
Aftermath- Your team will be happy you asked for help, the patient will receive the best care possible, and you will learn and grow.
Just say “Thank You”
Instead of making excuses for your successes, just say 'thank you' and stop, or follow it with, “I’ve been working very hard on that” or “Yes it was hard and I’m really happy with how it turned out.”
Celebrate Your Wins
Dog eating cupcake joyously
Make sure you celebrate all your wins… no matter how small! And, most importantly, verbalize, every single day, one thing that you are proud of yourself for. And do it OUT LOUD!
Celebrating every small win, every milestone, every new technique/procedure, by simply saying to someone (or your dog/cat) “I’m proud of myself because I ___ today!” will help you recognize and acknowledge your successes and growth, and realize you are a KICK ASS Vet!
Talk About It
The more you talk about your fears, stresses, concerns, and suffering with any mental health or medical issue, the smaller of a problem it becomes, the more support will gather, and the more you will realize that you aren’t alone. And, you might even teach someone else something and help them through a tough time, or prevent a tough time in the future! Imposter Syndrome is no different!

Even if you are just having a down day, don't be afraid to say “I’m feeling very unconfident today, I’ll probably be checking some of my cases more frequently today than normal” and remove the fear of asking for help all day!
Create a Support Network
Having a support network, both at your workplace and outside of your workplace, where you can discuss these issues, helps massively! Vet Positivity is a Facebook group that might be of interest!
Track Your Successes
Have a book of successes where you keep cards from clients, emails, and lists of successes, so that when you are feeling down you can reflect on all the amazing things you have done and achieved!

For more on Imposter Syndrome check out www.katiefordvet.com who focuses specifically on Imposter Syndrome and has a lot of free resources as well as 1:1 coaching. There is no reason to re-invent the wheel, so if someone like Dr. Katie does such an amazing job on this topic, a brief mention is all KICK ASS VETS needs to pursue here!
Written by Dr. Ann Herbst BSc, DVM

Published January 23rd, 2022

Advocate for yourself, you are the only one that will!

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