Why So Many Doctors Lack Self-confidence, and How to Get It Back

Pamela L. Wible, MD

August 26, 2015

In This Article

Where Did Their Self-confidence Go?

I've often heard patients describe doctors as arrogant, but never lacking self-confidence. Yet, like all people, doctors have self-doubts. How do physicians cope with their insecurities? Do doctors need more self-confidence?

To the observer, most physicians appear self-assured. In fact, some patients say that doctors seem overly confident, even cocky. Nobody wants an insecure physician; a confident doctor inspires confidence in patients.

I discovered that physicians lack self-confidence when I began leading business courses for doctors. As a physician-entrepreneur, I teach colleagues the business strategies to succeed in independent practices. For 10 years I've been asking physicians what they would like to learn most from me. Self-confidence always ranks near the top. The response:

  • "I need renewed confidence that I am intelligent and that I can achieve my goals."

  • "I need confidence personally, professionally, and in my future. I want to overcome my fear of embarking on this project."

  • "I want my confidence back. Right now I don't know what to think. I feel like I've been second-guessed at every turn by administrators, 'evidence-based medicine,' peer reviews, and patients. I'm beaten down."

Physicians are highly intelligent. Why would we lack confidence?

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