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Aspirations for an Ideal Future in Medicine: Tackling Limiting Beliefs

We are rounding out the first portion of how to foster your ideal future in medicine. So far, we have covered the larger state of medicine and what’s possible, enlarging your vision, and addressing fear and the inner critic. This week, we will tackle the other mindset aspect which can hold us back from enjoying the most fulfilling careers we can create within the existing system – our limiting beliefs.


What are limiting beliefs? They are essentially assumed constraints Beliefs and assumptions affect what you do and how you think, thereby potentially limiting what you believe is possible. What you can do, think, or choose. So many of these are subconscious or out of our awareness.


If they are outside our awareness, how do we tune in? Look at your ideal future visions. Are there things you left off because they would be considered impossible or unlikely? What did you automatically discount because “It would be impossible to…”, “I couldn’t…” or “It’s not in my wheelhouse to…” or, “I always….” "Academic institutions would never..." Tune into those absolutes, those narratives, and begin to challenge them. Ask yourself:


What are the assumptions that I can uncover?

What makes me think that?

What’s the underlying belief? (So many of our beliefs are thoughts we have rehearsed repeatedly until we consider them fact.)

What is that belief doing for me?

How might it be wrong?

What other belief or thought (or 10) could I try on?

What would it look and feel like if I didn’t have this underlying assumption?

What would be possible?


Ask a friend or trusted colleague – what might you be missing or not thinking of that would be so freeing and rewarding to include.


Where are you saying, “This is the only way I know how.” My husband owned his first practice with one amazing partner. The city at the time divided the loyalty of patients into 3 hospitals. In a small private practice, offering care to all patients no matter their hospital loyalty, made sense. Well, unfortunately, the 3 hospital trauma call systems did not integrate with one another so he was essentially on call 2-3 times every week with very busy nights. We just accepted that this is how life looked for his type of practice. We didn’t know there was any other way. When we moved to Alaska, it wasn’t to escape it. We assumed it would be very much the same. To our surprise and relief, the community in Anchorage coordinates city call – covering for both major hospitals. It added such a radical benefit to our family life!


It’s easy to have assumptions about any type of practice. I was coaching one senior who would not consider an offer because he would always be on call for his patients. I asked him a few questions, and he realized he had engrained assumptions associated with the phrase “on call.” All call is not created equal. He actually was missing many facts. He needed to ask how often the partners get phone calls after hours, what those phone calls actually entailed, what the process was for vacation, and what if he wanted to have a couple of drinks one night. I took calls for all of my patients in one practice for six years. I was called three times, that I remember. It usually entailed “try this and if not improved, then call in the morning for a same-day appointment (or go to the emergency room), and cross-coverage was easy and collegial if I didn’t want even the potential for one of those calls.


I once believed direct primary care completely excluded the most vulnerable patients. But even that is not absolute. It took a DPC colleague of mine to explain how she intentionally took a percentage of underserved patients and the steps she took to make it happen. (This will differ in various states to offer meaningful and effective care.)


I once made one of my quirky little videos about limiting beliefs; if you find it helpful – you’re welcome to watch it. 


Okay, now we have dreamed big, expanded to find the vision of an ideal practice, and attacked the inner critic, fear and limiting beliefs. Now we are ready to build the plan. That will be the focus of next month’s blog.

Until then, have a joy-filled week!  Tonya

My private coaching course for individual physicians walks you through detailed steps of ditching unnecessary suffering, protecting, and increasing your energy, and fostering your ideal future with me coaching you along the way.


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