Afraid of Causing Harm to Patients as a Future Doctor

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Session 214

With so many ways to make a difference in healthcare, how can you be certain you want to be a physician?

It’s about the fear of hurting others which is holding someone back. This is a very common impostor’s syndrome type of fear.

If you haven’t yet, check out the Nontraditional Premed Forum which is where the questions being answered here are taken from.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[01:18] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“One hesitation about attending medical school and becoming a physician is the thought that I would be responsible for someone else’s life. 

On the one hand, what a great thing that I would be able to make the difference in someone else’s life, hopefully for the better. But, on the other hand, what if I cause someone injury or death (of course accidentally)?

Is this a fear that premeds and physicians have? Is this a fear that people overcome? How do people handle this? Does this mean that maybe I am not cut out to be a physician? 

I have the grades, the scores, the desire to make a difference in people’s lives, and experience. I am ready to apply, except for this one fear.”

[02:05] It’s a Common Type of Fear

This is a very common fear. And yes, this is a common thought among students and physicians. We’re taking care of sick people and the fear is what if you did something wrong. What if you come in tomorrow and they’re not there. What if you missed the diagnosis. These are very common fears.

'What happens is you start to gain confidence as you're going through this process because you're gaining the experience, the knowledge, and the skills.'Click To Tweet

As you gain your knowledge and skills, you begin to gain your confidence. Then you also start to realize that you’re not a superhero. You’re going to commit mistakes. And there likely will be a patient that dies on your watch.

[03:05] It’s Part of the Process

But you will learn to deal with that kind of stuff. You will learn to understand that it’s part of the process.

Some people die because they came in too late. Some die because they don’t respond to a medication the way you thought they were going to. That happens.

“To be able to have the joy and have the right to take care of so many people, there's also the fact that you're not going to be able to take care of everyone.”Click To Tweet

There are some physicians that are not able to handle this very well. And this can lead to burnout, or depression, and even, suicide. 

[03:55] Is This What You Really Want?

Hopefully, you have the clinical experience to be around patients to know if this is really something you want. Then you can figure out the rest as you go.

'This is not something that you're going to have figured out all along the way.'Click To Tweet

At some point, you just have to take a leap if this is what you really want.


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Nontraditional Premed Forum