Dr Saloni Manwani is a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist with specialization in minimally invasive surgery and high risk medicine. She is a gold medalist in OBGYN.
You are done with your medical studies and qualified to treat patients. But, you feel nervous and underconfident when you start your medical practice. Dr Saloni Manwani takes us through her experiences and gives useful tips to build the self-confidence in yourself. After all, a patient trusts a doctor who is confident.
When you started practising, how did you start trusting your skills while prescribing medicines to your patients?
During the initial period of your training period in India, you are not allowed to prescribe medicines. You work with a senior doctor and learn by observing what they prescribe to the patients in different situations. Them, you see how the patient responds during the follow-up visits. Since medicine is not black-and-white, you have to read in between the lines and understand what would work and what won’t work. After a few cases, you start prescribing yourself. Slowly, you will get better at the art & science of prescribing medicines.
Do you remember the first time you used your surgical equipment? Were you nervous? How did you bring confidence in yourself for using them?
Yes, I vividly remember my first case in my residency as a gynaecologist; it was a C-section. The excitement of using surgical equipment for the first time overpowered my nervousness. But at the same time, I was fully aware that the weapons that can be destructive have to be used constructively. I had read up about the procedure to be sure about it. All of this boosted my confidence to successfully perform the procedures. After that, when the patient is happy, it assures you that you are using your surgical skills well.
What advice do you have for young doctors about trusting their skills, building self- confidence and handling their first case?
- Observe and learn: Learn from everyone around you – doctors, nurses, OT technicians, etc.
- Talk to your seniors: Whenever you feel nervous, take your seniors’ guidance.
- Read up: If you know what you have to do, you win half the battle.
- Experience is the best teacher: Make mistakes and learn with every case.
- Focus on maximising patient experience: When the patient is grateful to you, it will build your confidence furthermore.
Do you recall any time when you were low on confidence during your medical practice? What did you do to overcome that?
If I recall, before every major surgery that I performed for the first time, I would be anxious. It is natural to feel that way. I would take advice from my seniors and read up about it a day before the surgery to prepare myself. On the day of the surgery, you become aware that the patient’s life is in your hands. So, you cannot be in a position to be unsure of your capabilities. So, you ultimately gain confidence and perform your tasks!
Science is dependant on facts. But is there a point when you have to go with your gut feeling?
Even if you know the anatomy of the body, there are possible variants. There are several times when we get a gut feeling that the case can take an unusual direction. That is when you become more cautious and follow the further steps accordingly. And when it works, you are grateful for your gut feeling. I do not know how it happens, but I guess it comes with experience.
Any closing thoughts?
If you are confident about yourself and your skills, you can ensure that your patients trust you too. So, as a doctor, you need to develop self-confidence.