By Kristina Stephenson, PA-S2 student
A few weeks ago, when I was in the woes of my imposter syndrome, I did some retail therapy and bought a liver pin that said “Dream, Believe, De-Liver.” I like to look down at it from time to time for some quick inspiration during rotations. Clinical year is…. ok so far? Two out of 11 rotations completed, and honestly, it’s hard to imagine that I will be doing this certified and on my own next year. I feel like I know so much and nothing at all at the same time. Part of me misses didactic year and the safety and comfort of fake patient scenarios and explanations after getting a practice test question wrong. However, those days are over. These days, I’m having to go way deep into the filing cabinets of my mind to answer my preceptors’ questions. As rough as these situations are, these are the days that I used to hope for. Back in didactic, I yearned to see the textbook conditions on real people, knowing that would help solidify the information in my mind. And it’s true. It is much easier to recall a patient and their condition rather than all the details I tried to memorize. Plus, my patients have all been really nice, making all the struggles worth it.
The biggest tool to my success and fulfillment so far has been saying “yes.” Yes to everything. Pap smear? Yes. Removing a toenail? Yes. Nail trephination? Yes. An infraorbital injection in someone who is absolutely terrified of needles, but you have really shaky hands when you are nervous? Yes. I say yes to everything even though my mind is screaming no.
I would feel so much more comfortable absorbing my preceptors’ technique through observation and hoping to remember it in the future. However, I do not know the next opportunity I will have to perform that certain procedure again. So, I say yes and hope my hands don’t shake too bad. It’s paid off so far. I am always able to get through it. I learn what to do and what not to do so I am better able to perform the procedure next time. There are things you can only learn by doing rather than watching. Muscle memory is huge! And for procedures that I get to do more than once? I can see my growth. I smile a little bit under my mask as each time gets easier. By the time I finished my Women’s Health rotation, I was a pro at uterine manipulation during hysterectomies (not really but let me dream).
Even though my imposter syndrome comes back at the start of each rotation it fades away as the days go by. I’m learning a lot “on the job” and eventually things start to get easier. By the time I feel like I am maybe starting to get the hang of things, we are in the last week of the rotation, and it is time to leave. It’s ok though. The more I say yes and am willing to put myself out there, I fight away my imposter syndrome and prove to myself that I am capable.