Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

This week I was promoted to Associate Professor of Clinical Radiology at Weill Cornell Medicine. It was
an emotional moment and I was not sure I’d ever get here.

In my role as lead negotiator, I sit across the table from Health Insurance companies and negotiate deals
worth millions of dollars. Last year I gave a talk on AI in imaging to 2000 computer engineers. My latest
talk is called Fearless Leadership. I ride a bike in Manhattan for goodness sake. So why was it that when
it came to submitting my application for promotion I procrastinated and prevaricated for months?

The imposter syndrome wasn’t just real, it was overwhelming. After 11 years in private practice I joined
the faculty at Weill Cornell in 2014 and I absolutely love working in this collaborative clinical community.
My colleagues in radiology and across the organization have been supportive and I’ve taken on new
responsibilities that challenge me. But I regularly go to meetings with people who are NIH funded
researchers even Nobel Laureates. Who was I to think I could move up the academic ranks?

So what got me over my fears? Sponsors like the Chairs of the two Departments in which I have
appointments: Drs. Rob Min and Rainu Kaushal who supported my application and kept telling me I was
more than qualified. Mentors like Dr. Ruth Gotian who leads our newly formed Mentoring Academy who
kept gently nudging me along and colleagues like Dr. Elizabeth Arleo who set timeline targets and
reminded me that she was “holding my hand” along the way.

I share my story because all of us have areas where we feel less sure of ourselves and it is by supporting
and encouraging each other that we can start to really make a difference in the lack of gender balance in
academic leadership. It took a village to get me here but now I’ll approach the next academic hurdle
with much greater confidence. Not only that but I’ll be able to encourage others who, like I was, are
doubting their readiness.