Vet surgeon turned coach on beating the inner ‘imposter’
A senior veterinary surgeon has told NI Veterinary Today how years of being consumed by self-doubt led her down the path of therapy and to eventually becoming a coach to other members of the profession who are struggling to cope.
Katie Ford, who recently spoke at a Young Vet Network NI event in Templepatrick, told how despite wanting to be a vet since the age of six she was consumed by feelings of inadequacy at work.
“After a few years, I was a Senior Veterinary Surgeon, with many loyal and regular clients,” she explained.
“But as the praise rolled in, alongside client recommendations and good case outcomes, I felt myself discounting it constantly.
“I was really worried that if anyone saw my cases for a re-check, they might find something that showed them I wasn’t as good as everyone first thought.
“Rather than realise the pressure I was putting upon myself, I set to ‘outwork’ this and to try and ensure I was present at every recheck, even on my days off.”
Now after opening up about her own problems, Katie has turned to coaching others on how to cope with imposter syndrome and was moved by the feedback she got after speaking to young vets here.
“Nothing makes me happier than messages saying how hearing my story helped someone on their own path,” she told NI Veterinary Today.
“When I was in Northern Ireland, someone came to thank me, and shared with me that after hearing a podcast that I was a guest on, they went and sought help themselves, and now their life is totally different; it doesn’t get better than that.”
Katie, who now speaks about her experiences inside and out of the veterinary profession (“we are all human after all”) says her heart will always lie in helping vet team members but doesn’t rule out a move back to practice at some stage.
“I am very realistic about the challenges within the profession and have witnessed many of them first-hand,” she said. “I had many days in practice where I truly loved being a vet and soaked up the small moments.
“Conversely, I also had the days where I had a never-ending to-do list, we were short staffed, and nothing seemed to be straightforward.
“As my business took off, I did less clinical work but even with the realities in mind, I do miss it on the whole and I know the door is always open if I wanted another career pivot.”