I talked about imposter syndrome a few months ago on Episode 123. Even my most successful entrepreneurial colleagues
suffer from self-doubt every now and then, because….we’re human. But there’s a way that you can quiet that inner voice that’s
telling you you’re not good enough. Here to help provide a solution is Dr. Kristin Yates, a board-certified Ob/Gyn physician, author and
Life Coach. She hosts the podcast “Imposter to Unstoppable” which normalizes the experience of imposter syndrome among physicians (and all humans).
She now helps women physicians overcome self-doubt and cultivate humble confidence. However both men and women can benefitfrom the “truth bombs” she drops on this episode!
Free Masterclass: 3 Things Confident Doctors Never Do
Dr Kristin Yates’ Instagram:
Dr. Kristin Yates’ Physician Coaches Profile:
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: Hey guys, this is Dr. Mike Woo-Ming. Welcome to another edition of Bootstrap MD. We’re continuing our series of really putting a spotlight on those physician coaches who are out there and really making a difference. And I’m so excited to have my next guest, she’s going to cover what a lot of us have difficulty on.
I produced an episode on this, so probably about a few months ago, talking about imposter syndrome. And I feel she is one of the foremost experts on talking about imposter syndrome was talking about it even before. In Vogue. So I’m really excited to have on the program. Let me do a quick bio for you, Kristin.
She hosts a podcast “Imposter to Unstoppable,” which normalizes the experience of imposter syndrome among physicians and actually all humans. She’s done. She’s the co-author of the book, The Chronicles of Women in White Coats 3. She’s a board certified OB GYN. She’s got a family, three daughters and a dog.
Let’s welcome to the program. Dr. Kristin Yates. Kristin, how you doing?
Kristin Yates DO: I’m fantastic. Thank you for having me.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: Thank you. Thank you for coming onto the program. Now, as I mentioned, I’ve talked about imposter syndrome and I know you’ve talked about this and you work with clients, helping them overcome this.
We also talk about how to get the confidence of whether or not they want to pursue something outside of medicine. I want to go into all of that, but I first want to know is like, how did you get started? Everybody has their own origin story on how came a coach? What was the journey?
Kristin Yates DO: Yeah, the journey for me was that I graduated from residency back in 2016 and then within my first year I wanted to leave medicine and it was, I’m one of the lucky ones.
I had a wonderful job. My first job out of residency was fantastic and very supportive partners, certainly a schedule from an OB GYN perspective. That was very doable. So it was not any of the systems reasons, and I wasn’t a part of a private practice. So there was none of the systems, reasons that was the reason that I wanted to leave medicine.
I thought was a unique situation that I had never experience. And no one was really talking about, and it was the reason because of my imposter syndrome or self-doubt, I was so paralyzed by feeling like I really didn’t belong or that I wasn’t good enough or smart enough, or that I was going to make a mistake.
And that I really didn’t know what I was doing. And it was like every single day. I was waiting for someone to jump out and yell “Gotcha! We know you don’t belong here! Go back to medical school or find another career!” And that caused so much anxiety and rumination and overwhelm that I was like, there’s no way I can practice medicine like this for the rest of my life.
So I tried to Google how to find ways out of medicine and still afford to pay back my debt. And I didn’t find many options there at all. Luckily that coincided with the birth of my second daughter. And therefore I was also at the same time of trying to leave medicine, also trying to lose the baby weight.
And I came across coaching in that way. Weight loss, coaching, and I use the concepts of weight loss, coaching through listening to podcasts and reading books and that kind of thing to successfully lose the lose more weight than I ever had before. And then it was I dawned on me, like, why don’t I use these same concepts to not feel like an imposter anymore?
And so I did that and it worked. And after that, and I found fulfillment and satisfaction in my career. I then had this over powering desire to share it with other young physicians, early career physicians who might be having the same struggle as me. And then now here we are, almost five years.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: I’d like to dig deep in this imposter syndrome. Cause I’ve talked about it. I talked about how it affected myself. I’ve talked to boards, effected other clients friends, family. I know people who… According to success, financially multimillionaire, own lots of businesses and they still suffer from imposter syndrome.
Was it for you? Was it something that was internalized? Was it something perhaps, maybe in your residency program that maybe there was, people sometimes have great experiences. Some people have really toxic experiences in residency. Is there anything that you can pinpoint it to that made you feel that way?
Kristin Yates DO: I think, now looking back, certainly I had always had that thought that those thoughts of I’m not enough. And I remember. Even like the day I got the call for medical from the medical school, I went to, that I got in and my first thought was they called the wrong person and it, and that’s like a prime example of imposter syndrome.
And so it continued of course, through medical school, whenever I had to work really hard for something or something didn’t come naturally to me, instead of just assuming that it was a hard subject, I would all it always, I always made it mean that. I wasn’t cut out to be a doctor because it didn’t come easy enough to me.
And that went on in residency enough. Experience-wise ever happened to me. I think it was all in my internal dialogue. And I just didn’t know that I didn’t have to listen to that voice. I thought that voice was there because I was the one person who really didn’t belong. And of course, what I know now is that we all have that voice.
It’s just like part of the human brain conditioning. And I was just making that the driver in my life instead of like the passenger in the backseat that needs to be told to be to quiet down.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: Yeah. So another aspect of imposter syndrome too, is, we have… the group that we have with the physician coaches.
And we have physicians who now want to become coaches and some of these physicians have done tremendous things. And then when it comes time to go outside of medicine they, again, they put on this imposter center. I can’t go out there. I can’t do this or I can’t do that.
Or in some aspects. Trying to find ways to maybe validate it. For example, I can’t go into a business unless I got to get an MBA and I know not necessarily agree that you need to have an MBA on there. And then they end up spending tens of thousands of dollars. But just another way of either validating what they’re doing either to themselves or to society.
I know that you’re pretty familiar with the physician coaching kind of arena. Have you seen issues with that with physicians who are going into other things and either mentoring or coaching other activities?
Kristin Yates DO: Yeah. I see that all the time. And I think that, part of it is how we’re trained. Like you said, as physicians, we’re very used to the industry that gives you certifications and certificates and diplomas, and to prove your value. And I think it’s hard for us once we’re in this world to take a step out and realize that’s not how life is in general. And for many other things, your personal and lived experience.
Enough, most of the time to help someone else, which is usually why physicians want to do something else they’re not getting enough fulfillment or feeling like they’re helping enough people in just their medical career alone. And some, of course, there’s some financial incentive as well, but typically for physicians, they’re healers and they want to heal people and they want to heal themselves.
And I think that the only thing we know is. Do you need a certificate and you need to prove your worth. You need to prove that you’re good enough or smart enough to do it. And I think that the power of being in a room with people who have done it is the recognition that there’s about a million different ways to do any one thing.
Unlike medicine, it’s a very, go to medical school, take these tests, go to residency. There’s one path to becoming a doctor, but there’s not many other things in this world that are like,
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: So talk about you mentioned before we got on the call about instilling confidence and you call it conscious confidence. Can you tell us more exactly what you mean?
Kristin Yates DO: Yeah. I think that through my journey and it’s an ongoing process of becoming more confident in who I am and as a doctor and a mother, partner and all of these things I’ve tried on a lot of different ways to do it. “The fake it till you make it” or write a list of all the things you’ve done well, and all the other things that you do when you’re trying to be confident.
And those all worked to some degree temporarily for me. The only thing that ever worked with any lasting benefit was this idea of coming at confidence through consciousness or self-actualization is another way to look at it. So it’s first and foremost, the awareness of who you truly are, who we all truly are at our core.
And when you come from that place of I’m here for a reason and I’m special and no one else can do my life. Like I can, then it gives me and the women that I work with a whole sense of. There’s something really special and unique about me. And instead of trying to shy away from that, I want to lean into that uniqueness and allow it all in.
And I think along with that in the realm of, “I want to be more conscious in my life is a sense of non-judgment and like curiosity over ourselves and our past and our thoughts,” which I think is very powerful because physicians love to judge ourselves very harshly.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: I love what you said about curiosity, because I think a lot of about what we do as coaches is, we obviously want to help people, but I think a lot of it drive just being curious. I know you have your own podcast. I am on podcast as well. And one of the reasons why I did it is because I’m just curious about what other people are doing. And now I have a vehicle that allows me to do that.
What has been your experience using curiosity to drive yourself or your business?
Kristin Yates DO: I think in my physician realm, it has really helped me to. Actually become more fulfilled and co comfortable as a doctor. I think that I used to get really defensive because of my lack of confidence. And I would assume that my patients or colleagues were judging.
Whenever they would say anything that might trigger a limiting belief I had about myself, like they’re too young or they’re. How long have you been a resident? How long have you been a doctor for, and those kinds of questions. And when I was able to come to my job with curiosity, I, it wasn’t about me anymore.
It was it was, more about, this is fascinating. Like why is this patient well, what’s the fear there? Or why is my colleague asking about my management? What’s, where’s the disconnect. So it really offered me the ability to take my ego out of it, which I think was very powerful experience for me and actually made me enjoy my career. Sorry, go ahead.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: No. Keep going on.
Kristin Yates DO: In the realm of like curiosity with myself it w it’s been really helpful because I, of course. Inclinations met most days to judge myself for actions, anything from a parenting choice or, eating all the dessert or all the different things. I’m not working out that day. There’s a million reasons why I would judge myself. And I think making the decision to choose curiosity has allowed my, has allowed love in much more.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: I liked that. I like that. I want to talk about what we initially talked about, but with the fosters syndrome because.
It’s a bigger deal than most people think. And I think if society was to look at this and to listen, it was like doctors have problems with imposter syndrome. How can that be possible? Because they have degrees. It tells them what they’re doing. They spent all this money. Is there anything that you’ve seen with physicians and imposter syndrome specifically that maybe they’re still a big issue with it or is it just it’s just par for the course. And we see that in all different types of occupations.
Kristin Yates DO: Yeah. I think, as we had talked about it’s Def it’s a normal part of the human brain, but I think the issue with physicians is that there are certainly people who are at risk of feeling. Pressure of imposter syndrome more than others.
And those are people who are perfectionists, who are among high other high achievers, who feel like they have to they’re, they can’t be have a growth mindset. They have more of a fixed mindset. So all of these. Attributes are really common in physicians. We have to work really hard. We can’t ever fail or someone’s life is on the line.
We are certainly perfectionist. So we have all of these people who have high risk for suffering from the effects of imposter syndrome, meaning we’re allowing it to be the driver in our life. And then we’re put in a circuit in it in a circumstance like medical school and residency. We really are being judged for those things.
Like we’re getting grades, we’re being told we’re not good enough. We’re getting feedback like your surgical skills weren’t enough, or excuse me, or you’re put on probation for something or you fail your boards. And so there is this emphasis on all these external factors that kind of ignite the fuel of imposter syndrome.
And I then we become attending. And we’re supposed to do things on our own, and we’ve been trained to search for an external validation for 15 years. And we’re wondering why we all struggle.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: I think too is, as you mentioned, we’re often the decision maker and not only clinical, if you own your own practice, you’ve got business to business questions.
You have to deal with employee questions, but just in terms of clinical, for sure. But then also just because we live in a litigious society, every decision, no right or wrong, depending on what happens that day, you could get sick. For that. And I think there’s always that kind of second guessing what we see.
Also I think too is just the way society, views physicians and what they see. And just even just when I’m looking on, the news, I may have a doctor on board and, he’s very professional or she’s very professional. But there’s really no. There’s really no like personality for the most part that you see here.
What are your opinions and the opinions on those things that, that we talked about, whether it’s being sued or the way that society portrays it.
Kristin Yates DO: Yeah, I think those are huge factors as far as the lawsuits go. I’m an OB GYN, so I get it. That’s a huge, that’s a huge deal.
And I think for what I know for about my own experience and from working with other physicians is that I think certainly there’s a concern. There’s a financial concern about, what malpractice costs and that kind of thing about lawsuits. But I think it’s really more about.
What a doctor would make a lawsuit mean about them. It’s never about, oh, I’m scared. I’m going to lose my house. These things certainly could happen. In extreme cases. Almost always it’s really, if I get sued or I’ve been sued and they, and then a physician makes it mean that they’re not a good enough physician.
And if we have a limiting belief of, I’m not a good enough physician, and then you get sued, it proves that, and that is. Devastating. It’s totally devastating. So I think if you’re coming from a place of, no matter what happens, I know that I did my best. A lawsuit still sucks and it’s it. It’s stressful, but it’s not.
Tell me, but it doesn’t confirm anything about your value as a physician or a human being. And I think that’s it, that’s a place that physicians must get to if they’re have any chance of having a career in medicine that doesn’t ruin them. And with regard to. The how society views physicians. I think that’s huge.
And I think that this whole idea of what does professionalism mean? There in, even in the last year or so, there’s been a lot of social media pushes against that. Because… I think it’s hurting physicians and society in general, because if physicians have to pretend to not be human, then we feel like we can’t really own our emotions or our own crises in our life.
And we have to put that in a box, which is not healthy mentally or physically, but then I think it’s harder for patients to relate to us if they don’t see us as another person. And I have. Made a commitment actually to where my humanness more openly with patients. And I think that there’s a very professional way to do that and not cross lines, but also, put yourself back on their level.
And I think for many patients that’s really what they need to have. They don’t need another person on a pedestal telling them what’s right and wrong for them. They need someone who has, enough knowledge to help them, but also knows that they’re in charge of their own. Or their own future.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: So it sounds like just from your own personal exploration not only in getting and coaching others, it’s helped your own practice. It helps you with your patients. Can you speak to that?
Kristin Yates DO: 100% it has helped me. And I think that so much of it had to do with this thought that my physician, like my identity was that I’m a physician and that never really felt super comfortable to me. For a variety of reasons. And then once I realized that it’s because I’m more than that. And every human being is so much more than their career, but I think for physicians in particular, it’s really hard to separate that identity from our own self, because we have been working at it for so long. We worked at becoming a physician for over a decade. Sometimes we delayed having a family or relationships, or we’ve missed huge monumentous milestones in people’s lives to pursue this identity of a physician.
And society views us as a certain way. So then we feel like that’s who we are. We are a physician. And I think that the one most influential change in my life has been realizing that I’m a human being and I do physician work. I am not a doctor, I doctor as a career, but making that distinction, which seems very subtle, but fundamentally has changed how I work and see patients and view anything that ever happens to me.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve seen in terms of the way that physicians are coming out of school, as someone who may be a little bit older than you medicine when I was in. Going through medical school and run into the it’s a calling that’s the way they viewed it.
It was a calling. You had either go into private practice or you would work in some type of big health establishment, like a Kaiser or one of those for the rest of your life. And. Anything that was associated with being a physician? That was like, that’s what you had to do, whether that means answering those phone calls, during your weekend time and following up with those patients, you may not get paid for it, but that’s what you had to do.
And now what I see now is. But you say it’s, you’re doing physician work, but you’re a human first. And I think that’s a good thing. But there’s others who may be old school, like. In my area, or maybe even younger still feels that physician is a calling. When you say to those people who say, this is what you have to do.
This is your life’s work.
Kristin Yates DO: Yeah. I come across that all the time and I think that’s fine for anyone tend to think and view their life anyway. And I don’t want to convince anyone to, to change their mind. The question that I pose and that I post to myself is. Is, are you happy? Are you fulfilled or are you uncomfortable with that?
Are you resenting? And are you angry because if you are, then let’s examine why, and maybe it’s because there’s no boundaries or maybe it’s because you think that because you have the title of doctor, you have to pour out your whole, entire spirit and energy for other, for your patients. And I think that.
That mentality for most people is doing a disservice to the profession. And certainly there are people who it’s a calling for them and they can’t imagine doing anything else and it’s making them happy and it fulfilled that person should keep doing exactly as they’re doing. But I think that if you’re not.
Enjoying your career and finding satisfaction and fulfill fulfillment from it. And that doesn’t mean that there are not hard days because of course there are. But if you have any sign of resentment or anger or irritability or overwhelm, then I would really question. Maybe that’s not how you’re supposed to be a physician.
Maybe you are spoke, you were called to be a physician, but in a way that speaks to you and in the way that is going to be sustainable for you,
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: I want to talk about when you first decided to become a coach and open your doors. What was that conversation like for you, to yourself, to your family? When did you decide that this is a path that I want to go from my life?
Kristin Yates DO: Yeah, it was probably a little over a year ago for a long, for a couple of years. I was saying repeatedly that I was not going to become a coach that I just wanted to teach these concepts to people. And then. It was really funny at the universe, spoke it to me.
I met with a variety of people and they all basically asked me like, right in a row, when are you becoming a coach? What are you becoming a coach? And I was like, huh, interesting. That, that’s coming up so much for me. And then I asked why I wasn’t becoming a coach. And I realized that it was because of, I was scared about what other people would think about me.
And I said, okay that’s not a good reason to do anything or not do anything. And I asked myself some better questions. Why would this be something that I would want to do? Or how could it make, how could it may help me grow when those kinds of things. About a year ago, I decided to get coach certification.
But as it’s not a red, it’s not a field that you have to have be certified in. I’ve had been coaching people all along and I continued to, I called myself a coach and then I got certified. And now. I’m really leaning into that. I’m a physician, I’m a coach, I’m a physician at a coach.
And before it was I was a physician and then in parentheses coach later on down the road. And I think it was really a decision. It was just a decision that I made. Like I’m going to be a coach. I know I can help at least one other person. And I think that as easy as that sounds it sounds like, oh, that’s simple.
To just decide… it is a simple thing, but then sticking with it in allowing the terror to come in and allowing all the opinions and the judgments to come in is what makes it.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: And did they come in or is it something that you just assumed that they would come in or imagine maybe there was, where your patients would find out or colleagues or what, how did that work?
Kristin Yates DO: For the most part there, wasn’t a lot of judgment and of course I’m sure people judge me, right?
Like on social media. I don’t know what they think. I don’t know what strangers think about me. There are certainly people in my inner circle, even who think it’s weird. Or who think that, like, why are you, that’s a lot of work that you’re doing on top of your full-time job. But I just think it’s because it’s unfamiliar to people.
People are very used to a conventional way of life, where you have a job when you do that until you retire and then, you retire and then you die. And I think that’s not, I don’t have any interest in that kind of trajectory so I decided to shake things up a bit.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: So you are working a full-time as a full-time OB GYN in addition to your cut. Okay. And how long do you think you’ll be able to keep that going? Or is it inevitable? Have you gotten to the point where we’re able to compartmentalize your two different businesses?
Kristin Yates DO: Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know yet. I think I am… anticipating that it might not be forever. I don’t, but I don’t know exactly how it will change.
I think that right now… I’m in a private practice, but we are being acquired by a hospital system. And I, I don’t know if that might make a decision for me. I don’t know if they’ll allow me to practice medicine the way that I want to practice medicine. So I think that right now, I’m just saying.
Allowing the universe to show me the next step, which I’ve never done before. I’ve always had to know like in the next, every step of the way. But I th I think what I’m being called to do right now is just have an open mind and allow that the different possibilities. But right now I’m working as a full-time physician is allowing me opportunities to Serve patients in a way that I won’t be able to, maybe I won’t be able to do that forever. So I’m enjoying it now.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: Now people who listen on the podcast, we have a lot of people, our coaches, we also have some physicians who want to become coaches. What have you learned? Or what are some things that you’ve learned now that you’ve been a coach? You said that it’s been close to a year over a year that you didn’t know that you either were surprised that this came about, that you didn’t realize beforehand.
Kristin Yates DO: I think that… I was surprised about how much my own journey had everything to do with what’s happening outside of me. Like I was really, and what I mean by that is for me, I, at first I was really focused on the marketing and the, getting the email list and all of the things that you have to do in order to build a business.
But I was focusing on that a little bit too much, I think, because it’s fun and it’s new and it’s exciting. I got to a point where it was just, hustle so much. And then I just realized that I was just trying, I was just replacing my doctor hustle for another kind of hustle and I didn’t want to live like that.
So I think from that lesson of this is what I thought I had to do. I really just decided to. I give myself a permission slip to live life, how I wanted to live. And even if it didn’t look like it should, or like people maybe from the outside would like me to live my life. The moment I gave myself that permission was when everything changed in my business.
And that is something that I’m continuing to do every day.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: I love that, a lot of it is this kind of 80, 20 rule. And then, a lot of things that we see, like in marketing and things that we should be doing, we can always do more. But what happens if it never ends, you’re just on a treadmill and then you.
Okay. I did all this work and I’m not really seeing much from it, so maybe I should go to something different, but from any of us, we don’t know what that is or we’re not able to. And I love that. You said you gave yourself permission to just let’s see how this goes. Let’s see where this goes.
Whenever the universe or whatever you want to call it, brings to me. I think it’s really fascinating. So tell us, you’ve got some things that you’re doing. One is a masterclass about the three things. You tell them it’s about confidence and physicians. Tell me, tell them about that.
Kristin Yates DO: So I have a free master class that’s that is available. For you to watch whenever you want. And it’s the three things confident doctors never do. And I share some of the pearls that I learned that I, my clients have benefited from. And you can find firstname.lastname@example.org forward slash masterclass.
And then I always have a… I have a course right now on. Conscious confidence where I basically teach the fundamentals of confidence in self coaching and that’s available all the time as well.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: So tell us, who’s like the right person for that course.
Kristin Yates DO: That person is someone who has the awareness that something has to change. Like they’re feeling either that stuck feeling, or you have that now what feeling, and you want to be more confident at work and you’re getting in your own way, but you don’t really know how to get out of your own way. This course is going to meet you. I can give you the next steps.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: Wonderful. Wonderful. And again, your website,
Kristin Yates DO: https://www.kristinyatesdo.com. That’s K R I S T I N. There’s a lot of Christians and I’ve seen every single way.
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: Of course it was a pleasure speaking with you today. Any last minute thoughts before we end our call today?
Kristin Yates DO: No, I think it was wonderful chatting with you. We touched on a lot of my favorite topics and I will just grant an overarching permission slip to everyone listening, because I do understand that we are constantly searching for the. Permission outside of ourselves. So this is like a fairy wonder permission going over everybody.,
Dr. Mike Woo-Ming: I love it. We all need permission slips every now and then.
Dr. Kristin, thank you for joining us on the call and thanks for you guys. If you’re ever in a situation where you’ve got that imposter syndrome, things are going, you can’t just ruminate a ballot and feel. For yourself, you’re going to, Kristin did felt like she needed to make a change in her and her life and she just went with it and it’s all about keep moving forward.