4 Mindset Shifts to Finding Your Physician Role Model

Rachel Beanland MD writes about how to find the right role models, so you can make a bigger impact as a doctor.

As a junior doctor, I always felt inspired and driven to learn more about the specialties that interested me.

But I found it hard to imagine who I would be if I pursued that career and became a consultant in those areas of medicine.

I enjoyed working with many of my colleagues and had the privilege to work with and learn from some very skilled senior doctors. But I could never see myself in their shoes.

I found it difficult to find role models, particularly females that I could envisage myself being like, both in the way they carried themselves with patients and colleagues and how they approached making an impact in the world.

Of course, they were good doctors in many ways, but I just didn’t want to be like them!


I wanted to be inspired by women who had created paths that met their values, that were also like mine and who wanted to change the world, one step at a time!

I wanted to find support and be supported by like-minded doctors to be my authentic self.

I feared I would never fit in or would have to compromise my beliefs to fit into a certain role if I followed their paths.

Not finding these role models made the feeling of being a square peg in a round hole worse.

I felt like I didn’t belong and that no one understood me or what I wanted to achieve in my career.


One morning after a long night shift, presenting a long list of patients to a consultant, tired and late for a family event, I received no gratitude or recognition and felt like my time was not valued.

I decided I did not want to be like that in the future and although I respected this doctor’s expertise, I didn’t want to be like her.

But I didn’t know who I wanted to be like…

I realized that I needed to shift my approach. If I wanted role models who inspired me, and who I wanted to be like, I would have to look elsewhere and create those relationships rather than expecting them to be right in front of me.


If I wanted role models who inspired me, and who I wanted to be like, I would have to look elsewhere and create those relationships rather than expecting them to be right in front of me. Click To Tweet


If I did nothing, I would risk compromising who I was and becoming someone I didn’t recognize.

By shifting my focus on who and where my role models were I was able to find inspiration and support to pursue my path in my career….even if it didn’t fit into any boxes!

I stopped trying to be something or someone I didn’t want to be and instead found the confidence to seek out people who could champion and celebrate my uniqueness so I could make the impact I wanted to!


Here’s how I did it….


1. Work out who you don’t want to be

After identifying the people I didn’t want to be like I started to fill my imaginary black book of behaviors full of the things I would not take forward in my career. This gave me greater clarity on how I wanted to be at work, and an amazing list of behaviors I hope I never share with others. My anti-role models are never far from my mind to guide me to be the type of consultant I want to be.


My anti-role models are never far from my mind to guide me to be the type of consultant I want to be. Click To Tweet


2. Think and look outside the box

Just because I work in medicine doesn’t mean my role models have to be other doctors. I allowed myself to see role models in other careers and sectors whom I loved…loved the way they interacted with other people, loved the passion that they bought to their life, and loved the way there were present in the world. People who could inspire me near and far and support me in my career and life choices.


3. Connect with your future self


I got clear about who I wanted my future self to be and visualized as much as possible how she was and felt. I used my future self to guide me in my choices, and decisions and to give me the confidence to keep moving forward. Knowing that my future self is the ultimate role model was a great driver to become the person I wanted to be.


4. Be open to inspiration

Conversations can lead to the most unexpected inspiration. You never know what someone can share with you, what their experiences are or what you can learn from them. By taking the time to be open, I started to allow myself to be inspired by unexpected interactions and conversations. For me these are often the people I meet on long-distance transport, being open to finding similarities and what might just inspire me from listening to their stories.


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