Thrown Into The Fire

The first serious challenge I faced after arriving in the Medical Staff Office was when my coworker went out on Medical Leave.  It was anticipated that she would be gone for between 8-12 weeks.

This happened less than 6 months after I joined the team.

Remember – I had no real database training, no foundation knowledge regarding what I was doing and why, I had barely learned my own job duties and now I would be responsible for someone else’s as well.

I was panicking inside while those around me assured me that everything would be fine.


My specific instructions were from coworker – “I’ve already set up all of the reports for the next 3 months, all you need to do is fill in the blanks.”

There was no – “This is where the information comes from.”  I was missing the instruction of “That is why this is important to be included on the reports.”  And there was never a conversation that included “You may run into a snag with this aspect, if so, this is how you fix it.”  Nothing.  Nada.

Up until that point, it was the most stressful I had ever been at work.  Even more stressful than a previous boss volun-telling me to attend a cancer retreat, be the craft coordinator for 80+ people, with no prior experience at doing any of that – the weekend before my own wedding.

It took the full three months that my coworker was gone for me to figure out a system to deal with all of the issues I kept running into.


At one point, I remember having a conversation with the Director who asked how I liked my job.  Ever the optimist and attempting to be positive, I commented that I really liked the “process list” aspect of MSOW – as it helped me to keep track of what was still pending and what I needed to do.  I also included a comment, “Checking things off the list helps me feel like I’ve accomplished something in my day.”

I received the response from her, “There is much more to credentialing than just checking off items on a list.”

We both missed a great opportunity that day.  She didn’t understand my comment had a much deeper meaning – that I was feeling out-of-control in my job.  And, at the time, I didn’t understand that her comment meant that I hadn’t been trained properly because at that point, I only knew how to check items off the list.

Every time I turned around I was being told that I was doing a great job.  The Director, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), the Physician Liaison, the Credentials Chair – everyone insisted that I was doing wonderful.

So, why did I feel like a fake?  I felt like I was an impostor, like I didn’t belong in the Medical Staff Office.  I kept asking myself, the people I knew outside of the job, and a counselor (who I eventually started seeing) what was wrong with me.  Why couldn’t I get a handle on what I was doing and why was everything so hard?


I had the counselor sum it up best after I had been in the job for about a year – I hadn’t actually had just one job; I had been asked and required to learn 4 jobs, all requiring extensive knowledge that I did not have, with next to no training.

But at the 6 month mark – I knew none of what the counselor finally pin-pointed.  I just knew that I was trying to juggle work (with no training), home (with a husband and kids who didn’t understand with their own problems and demands) and self (my self-esteem began to plummet during this time – the start of a three year depression that I’m finally, just now, clawing my way out of).

It took another 3 years before I realized that the problem was not me, that I was not a fraud and that I did have something to bring to the Medical Staff world.

Have you felt like a fraud at work?  What did you do to overcome the feeling?


Author: Karen Kerbaugh

I am currently a Credentialing Specialist who still has a long way to go and a lot to learn. Follow me on my journey and let's learn together.

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