A career in medicine is not always a bed of roses. Certain incidents or situations might raise doubts about your career choice.  When you are faced with difficult situations, you may end up questioning your own skills and capabilities as a doctor.

Having doubt is normal, especially when triggered by unpleasant occurrences. However, it cannot be left unresolved as it would make you lose focus on your current duties, which in turn would affect your work performance. According to psychologist Leon F. Seltzer, anxiety and self-doubt can undermine your aspirations as well as lead to hesitation procrastination [1].

So how exactly can you remove these doubts, and avoid second-guessing your career choice in medicine?

Avoid seeking others’ approval or validation about your career choice

Many people think that seeking validation from others will help to make them feel better, and to convince themselves about their choices and decisions. However, this is not always the case. This may only invite negative, non-constructive feedback, even from those closest to you in an attempt to justify their opinions. When your mind is imbued with negativity, it would only cause further worry and anxiety. Nobody understands your situation better than you do. Trust your decision, and know that it is up to no one but you to make your noble profession personally fulfilling and rewarding.

Cherish positive experience and accomplishments

Ruminating on failures has been linked to the risk of experiencing intensified symptoms of depression. [2] Instead of mulling over failures and disappointments, reflect on the rewarding experiences you have gained and what you have accomplished in your profession. Think about the opportunities that you have been given to help your patients lead a better life and build positive, meaningful relationships with them as well as other members of the medical team.

Focus on the present

Uncertainties can come in various forms. You may encounter circumstances that make you question the future of your career, how it might affect your work-life balance and so on. These concerns can be a source of distraction that is not only emotionally draining, but can hamper your productivity as well. Focus on the known instead. How are you currently impacting the lives of your patients? What options do you have to develop further in your career? Make this your main motivation, and avoid clouding your mind with matters which are uncertain.

Find and foster a good support system among your medical colleagues

The ones working in the same field as you are better placed to understand the challenges that you are experiencing. Let’s say you are in the cardiology department - form a support group with other doctors in the team. Avoid isolation and be open to discuss with fellow doctors on ways to overcome those challenges. A culture of open communication has to be promoted in the medical sphere and doctors need to recognise each other’s vulnerabilities and difficulties without being judgmental. This helps to pave the way for self-empowerment. When you are empowered, you will avoid becoming victims of bad situations, have more faith in yourself and have better control of your choices and decisions. MIMS

Read more:
7 ways for doctors to stay motivated
5 upsides to every doctor’s career
Doctors: You can be a diversified professional without leaving medicine

[1]Leon F. Seltzer. “Anxiety and Self-Doubt: Perfect Recipe for Underachievement”. Psychology Today. 15 May 2015. Web. 15 Nov 2016. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201505/anxiety-and-self-doubt-perfect-recipe-underachievement
[2]Tesimann T, Steinfeld B, Willutzki U, Michalak J. “Rumination and distraction: selected findings related to the response styles theory”. Psychother Psychosom Med Psychol. 2011 Mar; 61(3-4):126-32. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20225165