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Overcoming Impostor Syndrome in Medicine with Dr. Gail Gazelle
Episode 2919th October 2020 • The Prosperous Doc • Spaugh Dameron Tenny
00:00:00 00:30:42

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You did the heavy lifting to become a doctor. The sleepless nights in medical school, the long hours of residency, the personal sacrifices to bring your dream to fruition. However, even at the pinnacle of this success, the little voice in the back of your head refuses to relent, ‘you don’t belong, you’re a fraud, how long before they find you out?’ Where does this voice come from? Why do I feel this way? Do my colleagues struggle with these thoughts?

On this episode of Prosperous Doc, we welcome Dr. Gail Gazelle, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and Master Certified Coach, to explore impostor syndrome among physicians. Dr. Gazelle examines the causes and symptoms of imposter syndrome, but also outlines her approach for overcoming these demons of self-doubt.

Dr. Gazelle shares her personal experience of chancing upon mindfulness coaching and the benefits she reaped from the process, “[i]t helped me work with my inner workings, getting to know them more. And I felt a sense of almost leapfrogging forward with some of the things that had held me back. So I was inspired to become a coach.” (2:49). 

During her practice as a doctor and a coach, Dr. Gazelle encountered a myriad of doctors and physicians struggling with crippling self-doubt and feelings of fraud or not being good enough. Discovering this problem and no adequate existing solution, Dr. Gazelle set out to attack the problem herself. She defines imposter syndrome as “the belief that what we know is minuscule and what our peers know is massive…that it's only a matter of time until we're found out. And once we are, we will be the laughing stock of our institution.” (4:57)

Doctors and physicians are far from unique in this experience, with seemingly unflappable public figures such as Michelle Obama and Jodie Foster revealing their own struggles with imposter syndrome. Dr. Gazelle stresses that in order to overcome imposter syndrome, you must realize you are not alone. “We feel so isolated and this voice of ‘you're an imposter, you're not as good as others’ leaves us feeling like it's just us. So, [it’s] very important that we can remind ourselves, this is not just me.” (15:14) 

Dr. Gazelle also addresses the connection between impostor syndrome, resilience, and COVID-19. Learn more about these topics in her book Everyday Resilience.


Financial Wellness Tip

This episodes’ Financial Wellness Tip encourages physicians to always thoughtfully consider the factors involved in lucrative investments before committing. While there’s nothing wrong with dreaming of an early retirement or having alternative streams of income, these are a few factors to consider first:

  • While you often hear the success stories, don’t forget the far more frequent failed ventures that set families back and erase years of hard work.
  • There are prudent opportunities to consider, such as buying into a surgery center that still come with risks
  • Always onsider discussing your investment strategy and buy-in opportunities with an experienced financial professional.


To learn more about Dr. Gail Gazelle visit her Purchase her book or start here to read a free chapter. You can also connect with Dr. Gazelle on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn @GailGazelleMD

Want to know more about about investing in a surgical center? Visit Buying Into a Surgery Center and The Pros & Cons of a Surgery Center.

The Prosperous Doc podcast by Spaugh Dameron Tenny highlights real-life stories from doctors and dentist to encourage and inspire listeners through discussions of professional successes and failures in addition to personal stories and financial wellness advice. Spaugh Dameron Tenny is a comprehensive financial planning firm serving doctors and dentist in Charlotte, NC. To find out more about Spaugh Dameron Tenny, visit our website at You can also connect with our host, Shane Tenny, CFP at or on Twitter. 




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