3 Strategies to Overcome Imposter Syndrome as a Physician Assistant

PA Coaching • June 6, 2023

Are you struggling with imposter syndrome as a Physician assistant? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Imposter syndrome affects many ambitious individuals, and it can be especially challenging when pursuing a career in the medical field. In this video, I will share my top 3 strategies for coping with imposter syndrome and thrive on your journey!

3 Strategies to Overcome Imposter Syndrome as a Physician Assistant

Imposter syndrome is a common phenomenon that many individuals, including physician assistants (PAs), experience throughout their careers. It involves feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy, and the fear of being exposed as a fraud. These emotions can significantly impact a PA’s confidence and performance. However, there are strategies that can help overcome imposter syndrome and foster a more positive mindset. In this article, we will explore three effective strategies to cope with imposter syndrome as a PA.

Recognize and Challenge Negative Thoughts

The first step in overcoming imposter syndrome is to recognize when you are engaging in negative self-talk and challenge those thoughts. Negative thoughts can become beliefs, which then influence our actions and behavior. For instance, if you believe that you are not as competitive as other applicants due to fewer patient care hours, you may approach the application process with a sense of doubt and inadequacy.

To combat this, it is crucial to identify when negative thoughts arise and consciously work on changing them. Take a moment to pause and reflect on your thoughts. Acknowledge that these thoughts are not helpful and do not reflect your true abilities. Instead, focus on shifting your mindset towards positive and empowering thoughts. Remind yourself of your strengths, accomplishments, and the value you bring as a PA. By recognizing and challenging negative thoughts, you can develop a stronger belief in yourself and present your best self in any situation.

Seek Support and Engage in Personal Development

Another effective strategy for overcoming imposter syndrome is to seek support from others and engage in personal development. Sharing your feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy with trusted individuals can help alleviate some of the burdens you carry. Discussing your concerns with a mentor, colleague, or friend who understands the challenges of being a PA can provide valuable perspective and encouragement. They can remind you of your strengths and accomplishments, offering a more balanced view of your capabilities.

Additionally, engaging in personal development activities can equip you with tools to overcome imposter syndrome. Read books or listen to podcasts that promote positive mindset and personal growth. One recommended book is “The High Five Habit” by Mel Robbins, which emphasizes self-recognition and celebration of achievements. These resources can provide practical strategies and insights to change your thinking patterns and build confidence. By seeking support from others and investing in personal development, you can develop the resilience needed to combat imposter syndrome.

Avoid the Comparison Game and Stay Focused

Comparing yourself to others is a detrimental habit that fuels imposter syndrome. It is easy to fall into the trap of comparing your GPA, experience, or skills to those of your peers or colleagues. This comparison often leads to feelings of inadequacy and a distorted perception of your own abilities.

To overcome this, it is essential to stop the comparison game and stay focused on your own journey. Practice having tunnel vision, where you concentrate on your own achievements, qualities, and experiences. Instead of fixating on what others have accomplished or possess, focus on your unique strengths and the value you bring to your work as a PA.

While it can be helpful to gather information from forums and groups related to your field, be cautious not to let it negatively impact your self-esteem. Avoid getting caught up in the statistics, stories, or experiences of others that may undermine your confidence. Remind yourself that everyone has their own path and that success is not solely defined by comparisons. By staying in your lane and appreciating your own accomplishments, you can break free from the cycle of imposter syndrome.

Bonus Tip: Celebrate Your Wins

In addition to the three strategies mentioned above, celebrating your wins is crucial in combating imposter syndrome. Every day, take the time to reflect on your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. Write down three wins every night, whether it’s gaining new knowledge, completing tasks, or overcoming challenges. By creating a record of your wins, you build a book of proof that serves as a reminder of your progress and capabilities. Referencing this book during moments of self-doubt can help boost your confidence and reaffirm your competence as a PA.

In conclusion, imposter syndrome is a common experience among physician assistants, but it is not insurmountable. By employing these three strategies – recognizing and challenging negative thoughts, seeking support and engaging in personal development, and avoiding the comparison game while staying focused – you can overcome imposter syndrome and cultivate a mindset of confidence and self-assurance. Remember, you are capable, deserving, and on a journey of continuous growth as a PA. Embrace your strengths, celebrate your achievements, and believe in your ability to thrive in your chosen profession.

Also read: 7 Networking Tips for PA Students

About me:

I’m Michele Neskey, aka The Posh PA. Welcome to my YouTube channel! My mission is to provide personalized guidance, education, and motivation to build confidence and promote wellness for aspiring physician assistants and beyond.   

Having been a PA for 17+ years and helped hundreds of students gain acceptance into PA school,  I understand the admissions process. I know what they are looking for, and I can help you tailor every component to make you shine, giving you the BEST chance of getting accepted to a program.  But it doesn’t end there. I create personalized plans for PA students and practicing PAs including test-taking strategy for the PANCE, contract negotiations, and tools to overcome and prevent provider burnout. 

My goal is to get you into a physician assistant (PA) school & survive the rigorous program, help you prevent burnout as a practicing PA, and help you take care of yourself so you can be the best version of YOU for your patients, family, and most importantly YOU!