Am I an Imposter Dentist?
Rants from the Dental Operatory: I think we all have those weeks when the whole shit pile side of dentistry starts piling on……like, you can’t get a patient numb after 87 attempts and a cocktail of anesthetics that could put a whale down and they still complain how much you are hurting them…..the crown you are trying to insert on the patient who swallowed their temp the night before is so far off from fitting that you can’t even tell a difference when you mistakenly seated it backwards….. or maybe you get stuck listening to a patient rant on and on about how clearly we are crooks and thieves by trying to charge $175 a quadrant for “just a cleaning” and this is why he hasn’t come to the dentist in 15 years and why can’t you just give him what he wants…..perhaps you look at updated bitewings on another patient and see some fillings you placed last year that have more voids in them than your shriveling dental empathy…..finally, your new patient greets you with the typical “I hate dentists and I hate being here.” pick up line that we are so used to hearing on a daily basis……that you REALLY start to feel the weight of all of this. I just wanted to go into dentistry to help people……AND…..having days like this…..it’s not uncommon to start to reflect that……I am a terrible dentist. I can’t do anything successfully. How did I even get a license? When will people figure out that I am not as good as they think I am? I don’t deserve to charge that much money when it’s just pure luck that I am getting anything right. I suck. Yeah……nice uplifting thoughts to ponder amid your dental mental breakdown.
Well, you are not alone in having days/weeks/months like this. In fact, it’s so prevalent….they have a condition named after it. Imposter syndrome. No…..not the phony smoke and mirrors that insurance companies use to pretend that their business is looking out for the best care for their clients when they offer us a downgraded amalgam fee of $50 for a MODBL composite because crown coverage is denied)……For us, Imposter Syndrome is the belief that we have been given something we didn’t earn and don’t deserve (like our degrees, licenses, respect, financial compensation, praise) and at some point we will be exposed for the frauds that we are……and for my female colleagues out there….it is most prevalent among high performing women . Great!!!!....glass ceilings, mom guilt, menopause….and now this to look forward too!!!! We really do get to have it all girls.
But seriously, I point this notion of imposter syndrome out to you because I have felt this way at several times in my career and it is something that can affect you personally and professionally. I didn’t know much about how this type of thinking can affect you until I started researching it…..and would recommend a book called “Presence” by Amy Cuddy if you would like to learn more. What I did learn was that there are MANY people who suffer from this (men and women)….. and MOST feel that they are alone in experiencing this. I am here to tell you….you are NOT alone. And…..you DO NOT suck. Will there be days that make you feel like you’d be the last bur chosen from the bur block of life????? Yup…..but, that doesn’t mean you don’t have value, a purpose…..and worth. You earned…. with blood, sweat and tears (mostly our own)……your degrees, your licenses, your achievements, your professional admiration, your successful life. So, when you mess up or have that hellish day at the office….stop, chin up…..and remember how awesome you are….and slowly, when these set backs try to ruin our day…..they will be easier to shrug off because they can’t dull the shiny diamonds we all are.