surgical teamI look like a surgeon. Apparently. Maybe. Sometimes? It’s now a famous hashtag and a symbol of the empowerment and achievement of women surgeons: #ILookLikeASurgeon

I quite often look like a mum. You know, a bit frazzled with a random snot stain on my shoulder and a lego man or two in my pocket. Or climbing trees or dancing around the kitchen having a home disco with my two children. But not a surgeon.

At the gym, I frequently look like I’m having some sort of cardiac event; red in the face, unable to breathe and sweating profusely. But not a surgeon.

I sometimes look like a friend; providing tea and hugs and tissues when needed and certainly receiving these when required too. I occasionally look brilliant when dancing and laughing loudly. This perception of brilliance can only be held once a few glasses of wine or gin have been consumed and several friends hugged on a rare night out. But not a surgeon.

Except, and here’s the shocking headline, I am a surgeon. A surgeon in training but a surgeon nonetheless. I’m also an NIHR-funded researcher nearing the end of my PhD, the past Vice-President of the national surgical trainee association in the UK and a 2018 ICRE Chief Resident, amongst several other roles. The pyjama wearing, snot-covered, gym bunny-wannabe, gin-loving me is a surgeon, researcher and Chief Resident. And that is quite mad.

I’m not entirely sure how I got to this point. Metaphorical professional doors kept opening, I kept walking through them and now I’m here; with a public persona of professionalism and a feeling of a terrible, dark secret……I am completely sure there must be a mistake. An error. I don’t belong here.

Imposter Syndrome 

Imposter syndrome is a funny thing and something that was first brought to my attention by Chris Lake, Managing Director of Integrated Development and former Head of Professional Development at the NHS Leadership Academy.  Imposter syndrome is typified by, often high-achieving, individuals who fail to acknowledge their accomplishments and have a nagging feeling that they are about to be exposed as wholly inadequate. A fraud. A mistake.

So what’s the problem with exhibiting these sorts of feelings and emotions? Whilst such internal drivers can motivate a desire to improve and self- evaluate, they can also be very restrictive. Those that identify with imposter syndrome may find themselves less likely to apply for promotions or put themselves forward for roles of responsibility as they are convinced they aren’t good enough or lack the skills required. They can dismiss their achievements and under-sell themselves, attributing their success to others rather than having ownership over their own accomplishment. This devalues their achievements and leads others to do the same. A mistaken sense of woeful under-qualification can lead to erosion of self-confidence and loss of contribution to a team.

Tackling self-doubt 

One of the tactics Chris suggests for personally dealing with imposter syndrome is to make an email folder of all the thank-you’s, the positive messages and the feedback you receive. Then, when you are having an acute attack of Imposteritis (an entirely made up word!), you should open the folder, read the contents and be reminded that you are worthy of your achievements, increasing your sense of self-confidence, esteem and value. I went away and did exactly that. I now have a “Boost Folder” in my email inbox. But here’s where I went wrong…. I never once opened it. I filed emails away into it but did not look at it.

I confessed this to Chris a year later and was challenged to actually read the contents. It took me several weeks to look in that folder. In fact, it took several weeks, speaking at a national conference and receiving some great feedback before I felt as though I could perhaps take a look at the endorsements of when I’ve succeeded. It felt a bit weird to sit and read through thank you emails and praise. My initial reaction was to dismiss the contents but with time I am realising that it’s ok to recognise my own achievements, quietly celebrate my own successes and grow in confidence. That’s not being boastful or lacking humility, it’s simply owning the results of my hard work.

I do, in fact, look like a surgeon.

I will be leading a workshop exploring these themes and supporting others in ways to tackle such feelings. I don’t have all the answers and but I am on a journey to both embracing the motivation to do better and fighting the desire to not try because I fear failure or believe someone else would be better placed. Come and join in the conversation at ICRE 2018!

2018_ICRE_ChiefResident_Elsey_PhotoLizzy Elsey is an ICRE 2018 Chief Resident from Nottingham, UK.
Her workshop, Imposter syndrome and overcoming yourself in order to succeed, takes place on Saturday, October 20, 2018.

#ICREWithMeOver the years, ICRE has evolved into one of the most innovative conferences in medical education, attracting over 1,600 participants from nearly 40 different countries around the world.

This year, we’re hoping to build on that momentum and ask you to bring a colleague or friend who has never experienced ICRE before, and introduce them to this exceptional conference.

Past participants who bring a friend to #ICRE2018 in Halifax are encouraged to snap a selfie with the ICRE first-timer, and tweet it using the hashtags #ICRE2018 and #ICREwithMe.

Those who tweet the photo will be entered to win one complimentary registration for #ICRE2019 in Ottawa, September 26-28, 2019!

Don’t delay – bring a friend to Halifax and have them experience #ICREwithMe.

Royal College/JGME Top Research papers

We’re thrilled to announce this year’s Royal College/JGME Top Research papers. From examining faculty ratings to determining assessment anchors, this year’s papers explore medical education research and outcomes.

This year’s papers will be presented on Saturday, October 20 at 0915 at ICRE 2018 in Halifax, Canada.

  • Differences in EM trainee caseload and faculty ratings associated with supervising faculty gender
    Presented by: Lauren Cook-Chaimowitz, McMaster RCPSC Emergency Medicine Training Program, Canada
    Co-authors: Van Diepen, Kelly; Caners, Kyla (McMaster University, Div. of EM, Dept. of Med., Hamilton, ON, Canada); Pardhan, Alim (McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada); Welsford, Michelle (McMaster University, Div. of EM, Dept. of Med., Hamilton, ON, Canada); Chan, Teresa M. (McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada)
  • A grounded theory study of assessment anchors in PGME: Forthcoming opportunities and ongoing tensions
    Presented by: Nancy Dudek, University of Ottawa, Canada
    Co-authors: Gofton, Wade; Rekman, Janelle (University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada); McDougall, Allan (CMPA, Ottawa, Canada)
  • An empirical method for determining sentinel milestone ratings to predict residents’ attainment of recommended graduation targets
    Presented by: Kenji Yamazaki, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, United States of America
    Co-authors: Holmboe, Eric (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, Chicago, IL, United States of America); Hamstra, Stanley J. (University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada)

Continue Reading »

Do you have a friend or colleague with an interesting story to share? Think your experiences lend themselves to a unique learning opportunity for residents? If so, we want to hear from you!

ICRE will once again host the dynamic Resident Survival Stories panel session for 2018, and we’re currently searching for panelists to share their stories around best practices and successful navigation in the area of The Learning Environment and Professionalism: How these entities affect Residency Training.

Deadline for submissions is June 15, 2018.

Click here for more information, and to access the submission site.

RCP0318-2018-ICRE-WebBanner-EN-Register-621The wait is over! Online registration for the 2018 International Conference on Residency Education is now open. Continue Reading »

I want to begin this post by asking you, the reader, to reflect upon the thoughts and questions that come to mind when you consider the learning environment in postgraduate medicine. It’s highly likely that any number of you thought of many different aspects and approach the learning environment through different lenses. There is no doubt the learning environment is a complex construct with many facets to consider when attempting to better understand and appreciate it.

Residency is a unique time in a physician’s career during which we begin to take on the responsibility of working for our institutions and for our patients, however still have much to learn to grasp the full scope of our own specialty. We are entering our careers in financially strained systems in which we must give consideration to caring for the system as a whole, while caring for our individual patients. The needs and expectations of society are also shifting, with increasing demands for accountability of our hospitals and our graduating clinicians. In recent years, consideration of these factors has led to broad and international changes in residency curricula. With this change in curricular design, must come parallel exploration and advancement of the environment in which we, as physician trainees, learn and become competent clinicians.

This consensus conference is structured to explore the postgraduate learning environment through six avenues: psychological, architectural, educational, inclusivity, digital and socio-cultural. We will strive to develop a comprehensive understanding of how these factors influence the learning environment, and thus, how they in turn impact learning. We intend to review what is known within each of these bodies of research, what areas need further exploration, and most importantly, how each of them fit together in the greater construct of the learning environment as a whole.

Participants will leave with an in-depth appreciation for the multiple facets of the learning environment and valuable considerations for application at their own institution. We also hope to collaboratively set the stage for future research into advancing the postgraduate learning environment.

We are lucky to have many international experts contributing to the program including Dr. Jonas Nordquist (Conference Co-Chair, Karolinska Institute), Dr. Linda Snell (McGill University), Dr. Jason Frank (Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada), Dr. Ming-Ka Chan (University of Manitoba), Dr. Kelly Caverzagie (University of Nebraska College of Medicine), Dr. Anthony Llewellyn (University of Newcastle), Dr. Hiroshi Nishigori (Kyoto University), Dr. Saleem Razack (McGill University), and Dr. Ingrid Philibert (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education).

We are very much looking forward to this event and hope that you can attend.

2018_ICRE_ChiefResident_Hall_PhotoDr. Jena Hall BScH, MD, MEd Candidate 2018
Learning Environment Consensus Conference Co-Chair
ICRE Chief Resident
Obstetrics and Gynecology PGY2
Queen’s University

BlogWant to share your research, innovations and other successes with an international audience of medical education experts?

Consider submitting an abstract for presentation at ICRE 2018 in one of the following categories, before the March 2, 2018 deadline:

Abstracts will be accepted for presentation in either poster or oral form, and should speak to one of the topic areas as defined under our official conference learning tracks.

Visit the ICRE website for more information, and to download our submission guidelines.