That’s me at the end of my morning surgery today.
I just don’t seem to know a thing. Twenty-odd patients have passed through my door and I haven’t made a single new definitive diagnosis in any of them. Sherlock Holmes has left the building and pre-senile dementia has popped in to keep his seat warm. What on earth made me think I could be a doctor in the first place?
The thing that’s brought on this attack of the colly-wobbles, this acute-on-chronic Imposter Syndrome, is that I’m thinking of becoming a trainer, and I’m honestly starting to wonder if that isn’t the most insane bit of hubris since Icarus started eying up that large pile of feathers. How could I possibly be a trainer? I know nothing! I am the original Manuel!
They talk about the management of uncertainty in general practice, but the only uncertainty I’m trying to manage right now is how utterly uncertain I am about why I’m here in the first place.
The average Daily Mail reader could make more confident pronouncements about half the patients I’ve seen today. If I hear myself say ‘it’s probably a virus’ one more time, I swear, I’ll send myself home on indefinite gardening leave.
If only I could have had just one molluscum contagiosum. Or a nice, straight-forward meralgia paraesthetica. But no, it’s just been one long stream of rashes the like of which I have never seen before, punctuated by chest pains which could be anything or nothing, and you’d think I’d know the difference by now, with the odd chronic fatigue wanting a blood test I’ve frankly never heard of thrown in for good measure.
So when it comes to trying to remember the third-line antibiotic for a burgeoning cellulitis in a patient with multiple allergies, I just draw a complete blank and run out of my room screaming.
And now I sit contemplating my chances of being the kindly sage gently guiding my young registrar protege through the murky gloom of front-line acute family medicine, and wondering what the hell I was thinking. When they gaze up at me with their eager trusting hopeful young eyes waiting for the answer to life, the universe, and whatever latest medical conundrum sits before us, I can hardly say ‘Search me, mate, I’ve literally not the foggiest.’
Felicitas Woodhouse is a GP in Warwickshire and was the winner of the 2016 BMA writing competition. She writes under a pseudonym
I thought it was only me...
Yep and me!!
Refreshingly honest and very familiar !
Ah this is so reassuring. I thought she was describing me to a tee !
I often say "I haven't the foggiest". It has two positive results. It means I don't have to feel guilty in the way Felicitas clearly does. And secondly, next time they attend they will see one of my partners instead.
beautifully articulated, very entertaining, well done. Please keep writing!
we all have our moments of doubt - I read recently in a learned medical journal - the only thing certain in medicine is uncertainty!