Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 5 - Cecilia Davis-Hayes - DEFEATING IMPOSTER SYNDROME - Part 1 of 3

Definitely. I think I've struggled with that a little bit as far as like, you know, I think we call it imposter syndrome in med school and thinking, oh man, like all these other kids in my class are so serious about being doctors. And here I am, like taking two extra years to do triathlon.

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Definitely. I think I've struggled with that a little bit as far as like, you know, I think we call it imposter syndrome in med school and thinking, oh man, like all these other kids in my class are so serious about being doctors. And here I am, like taking two extra years to do triathlon. And maybe I'm not as serious as them, maybe I'm not as dedicated, and I think it has taken a little bit of grappling with me and I think I've -- it's easier now that I've gone through the match and I you know, got a great you know, match and a great outcome. So, makes it seems you know, validating but I think was a little bit hard for me to balance like those two identities and say, you know, I can have these two things that are both really important to me. And that doesn't make me like a lesser future doctor or a lesser, you know, triathlete and I can be both. JESSE: Today on the show, I have a special guest who was referred to me from one of our other guests, Todd Buckingham, who we'll talk about here in a minute. She's a former collegiate runner, former cat one cyclist as an amateur. She was a USA Triathlon National Champion, currently racing as a professional triathlete for Purple Patch Fitness and Matt Dixon. And as of today, finishing medical school, getting ready to start residency. So welcome to the show, Cecilia Davis Hayes. CECILIA: Thanks so much for having me, Jesse. JESSE: So first, we're going to give you congratulations for finishing off the end medical school. CECILIA: Thank you. Yeah, it's exciting at long last. It’s come to a close. So we just finished our like ready for residency course, which is like the final month and they kind of synthesize all the high yield the information we're going to need when we start our residency in a couple weeks. So, that kind of made us feel a little bit more prepped and ready, ready to go. It's all you know, it's a big accomplishment but it's also really scary because it means you're going out into the real world. And you're no longer a student and someone actually is going to call you doctor now. So, that's a big step. JESSE: So, have you -- I've forgotten the like, timeline, have you put in your bids residency and done the matrix and all that yet? CECILIA: Yeah. The matrix, that's funny. Yes. Yeah, I have. So back on March 15th. So a little over a month ago, we found out our match. So it's for those people who don't know the medical field, it's basically you go on this long application process and you interview at a bunch of programs, and then you rank at those hospital programs in the order of your preference. And then they rank you and it puts it into this whole algorithm that comes out and spits out your match. And so yeah, we all know where we're going for next year. So, I'm not too dramatic, but I'm staying in New York City, going across town a little bit to the east side to Weill Cornell Medical Center, which is sort of affiliated, my programs affiliated with them. The cancer hospital, their Memorial Sloan Kettering, and then the kind of Orthopedic Hospital for special surgery. So, that'll be my next five years. JESSE: Five, okay, so yeah, you definitely got some time there. My college roommate did his match and he has a wife. So, they were both trying to match together. Is it just you or extra strings attached? CECILIA: So yeah, that's the couples match. And a lot of people do that and it's extra stressful. But luckily, no, I didn't have to go through that. I do have a partner, fiance say who's in medicine as well but we were kind of staggered. So he’s - ahead of me so that makes it easier if you can kind of follow me. You know, he has a good job here that he just started. So that was one of the reasons why we ended up deciding to stay in New York. JESSE: Good deal. Yeah, I know for him, it was a lot of stress and they actually ended up in two different cities. She was in Indianapolis, and he was in Baltimore so it didn't quite work out. So, I was hoping you didn't have to go through the same thing. CECILIA: Yeah, it turned out okay for me. JESSE: So, I think I read you decided to specialize in radiology? CECILIA: That's correct. JESSE: So, what drew you into radiology in particular? CECILIA: Yeah, so it was a tough decision for me. I really liked all the specialties in medicine during my clinical rotations, you have to do of course, like general internal medicine and primary care and obstetrics and surgery, neurology, and you have to get a sprinkling, you know, exposure to all the specialties. And I really liked everything after all the rotations, I thought, you know, I could do this, I could do that. So, it was a tough decision for me. But I think it came down to really, who seemed the happiest in their career. So, the doctors who I spoke to at, like, further out stages, I think that was giving me the most information to make a good decision because it's really hard to tell from the limited exposure you have as a student what that life is really going to be like and what that - path and the people. And I kind of always had been intrigued by radiology and thought that was kind of neat, this really powerful tool, right? I think about how often particularly athletes, but of course, any patients are relying on like, oh, what's the result of the MRI, what's the result of the CT scan, and you're the one gets to kind of determine that, so it felt really important. So, I always knew that in the back of my head. And then I took a month long rotation in it and saw how happy these people were, and had great job satisfaction and longevity of interest in their field, which was very appealing to me. Because I think I was a little scared that the high rates of burnout in other fields and I wanted to avoid that if possible. JESSE: Is there anything like is there a specialty like -- Sorry, I have to apologize, I'm only like surface level familiar basically through my roommate. So, he's in PM&R. So like, we get to talk sometimes because I'm like, I messed this up, what do I do? And he's just finishing his residency, actually. But anyway, is there anything like a specialty in radiology that interests you or just the field as a whole because of that satisfaction? CECILIA: Yeah. It's a pretty diverse field, which like any field in medicine, you can almost create your niche within it. And so there are a couple areas that are especially appealing to me. There's sort of keep the sports theme alive with doing like a musculoskeletal radiology path, which they actually do quite a few procedures like injections and like arthrograms, kind of like injecting die and then taking a picture. And like ultrasound guided, you know, steroid injections and things like that. And then interpreting like these really complex like, you know, foot MRI very detailed. And so that is definitely appealing to me and you can work with athletes. I think I went into med school thinking maybe I would want to do some sort of sports medicine. That didn't end up being like such a good fit for outright to do like orthopedics or - sports medicine, I thought about those things. So, that would be one option. The other really, I had a mentor in medical school who's a breast radiologist. So they do a lot of like the biopsies for, you know, women who have a suspicious mass. And then even are kind of able to see these patients throughout the course of their illness and have a little bit more of a relationship. So, I think that's pretty appealing because one downside of Radiology is that you might not have as much like patient interaction. If you're reading scans from your reading room, you might not have an opportunity to have as much of that interaction. So, I think that the breast radiology is on the end of the spectrum that is a little bit more involved. So, I guess those two are appealing, but it's something I'll have so much more opportunity to explore in those five years and kind of make a more informed decision at that point. JESSE: You don't really have to, like specialize until several years from now or is it even after residency? CECILIA: Yeah, I mean, you don't really even need to. There are general radiologists who do everything. I think in a city, in a big city like New York, you really need to put you know, your hat on and say I am X type of radiologist only does you know, - a service, it seems like to kind of market yourself as such, and have a specific expertise. But I know plenty, you know, doing all these interviews in different places, I interviewed all over the country and talk to people like say, University of Colorado, University of Utah, who were going straight into practice after residency, and doing it all. So, that's certainly an option if you want to move to like a more rural place. Yeah. JESSE: Okay. So, I kind of like the elephant in the room, I guess because I think I heard you, I think it was the interview you did with your coach for his podcast talk about taking -- read it. I tried to do some background research of you talking about taking time off from medical school just to race. So I think the elephant in the room now is are you on pause for residency? Are you going to like try to continue racing at the professional level or like what's the plan? CECILIA: Yeah. Yeah, big, big question in my life. It's honestly sort of in the question for me for a number of years really, since I started competing at a high level first in cycling about maybe six years ago and competing -- I compete in the Tour of California and some bigger stage races and then found triathlon and had you know, pretty immediate success. Like you said, I won age group nationals after swimming for less than a year and after like six months in triathlon. So, it's kind of immediate success, and I had was in the middle of med school and I kind of had to face this decision of do I like proceed with the course of least resistance as far as my, you know, academic training, and sort of have to leave triathlon as a second, as an afterthought, or do I kind of devote more time to it and sort of craft my schooling, you know, with triathlon in mind. And I ended up doing the ladder. And like I said, on the Purple Patch podcast I was able to take two extra years of med school, you know, sort of it was time off, but I really was a full-time student, still doing research. So, that's much more flexible than you could imagine because we do a lot of the research from wherever you have your laptop, as opposed to like the clinical rotations, we really have to be in the hospital. So yeah, so that was kind of my gift to myself of, it was really important to me, I'm having a lot of success at this, like let's take some time to focus on this and sort of a focus on triathlon. And it was sort of an unknown as to what would happen after that. I thought, maybe I won't keep getting better and then I'll make the decision easy. Or maybe I won't feel like doing it anymore, that'll make the decision easy. And I think luckily, neither of those things have happened. I'm really excited about it and I'm racing now, the fourth year med school in the spring is sort of a little bit like senior spring, so you have pretty much time to race. I've gotten in a couple of -- I’ve already raced twice and then I have St. George coming up this weekend. And I'll be able to race two more times before my internship starts in June. So yeah, I guess I kind of -- To answer your question directly, I don't know if I'm going to be able to keep racing. But yeah, I've got to see how much spare time I have outside of the hospital. And if I'm feeling that time was swimming, biking and running, or if I want to be filling that with, you know, other things. JESSE: So this is this is kind of a sensitive question for some people with their coaches. So like, if you don't want to share this, that's okay. But like, what kind of, like training load are you doing hours wise right now? CECILIA: Yeah, no, that's fine. I can definitely answer. So, you know, funnily enough, I don't track my hours. So, I have no idea. I could probably give you an estimate. JESSE: Yeah. I mean, I know I'm roughly like, eight to 10 hours a week because I brought my load down. I don't pay attention to every week, but just like as a general sense. CECILIA: Roughly, yeah. I'm probably more like 12 to 15. Yeah. So, I have a fair amount really, in the last, you know, with those two research years, and then even in this last year, I basically took, I came back and did my like fourth year from kind of March last year in March 2018, to May 2019. And in that time I had commitments, but it was never a really grueling schedule. So, I was really able to - quite a bit of time to train and race and travel to race. So yeah, I think I'm probably on the lower end for sure of the professional athletes that my coach coaches or in the professional athletes in general, for sure. But I've always been sort of a less is more type of person philosophy. And I feel like that's always worked for me. We were talking about before we went on live that I ran in college, but never was able to make it more than halfway through the season without having some sort of injury or some sort of sickness or anemia or something. And I think doing less running for sure and having the variety of the three sports has really helped me to stay healthy. So well, of course, 12 to 15 hours sounds like a ton for a lot of folks out there for you know, the people -- girls on toeing the line against it's not a ton. JESSE: Right. Yeah, no, it's -- Yeah, I mean, even I guess for some perspective, like, the last few years, I was working out like 15 to 17 hours a week and doing 70.3. Actually, we were both out of Eagle Man this last year, although you wouldn't know that and I didn't know at the time and we were racing similar speeds. CECILIA: Okay. Yeah, there you go. JESSE: So, you know, I it's kind of like my coach said in the episode with him, tha there's many ways to make a pizza. You can make a pizza, a good pizza many different ways. So, it seems like your load is probably more reasonable. I was just concerned if you're going to say, oh, I'm working out 20-25 hours a week. It's like, if you have to maintain that kind of load to keep the kind of fitness, it's going to just be a mania trying to cram that in with anything else really. CECILIA: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. I think no matter what, I'm going to have to cut down somewhat and it's just a matter of whether I'm able to kind of squeeze it in, in a way that makes sense. Like I am able to, you know, do a running commute. I've got my hospital where I'm going to do my internship - years is like five miles away. So, can I like run both ways and I don't know, get in the training there and kind of craft or maybe all I'll feel like doing when I come home from the hospital is going for like a bike ride. And maybe that'll work or, like it's so hard to predict, you know, what you're going to be like what your life circumstance is. You know, I talked to people who have kids and they're like, you know, I don't know if I'm going to be able to compete after I have the kid and some people can go totally one way. They're like, oh, what I want to do when you know, daddy's taking care of little Benny is like go workout. And other people who are like, I can't leave him, you know, or I want to just go watch movies while I have my time, you know, time to myself. So it's funny how you can't really as much as of course, triathlon’s like it really important to me and I've had so much satisfaction training and racing, and I love it, love the community. It would be like foolish, I think to say, oh, of course, I'm going to keep doing it. Like I'm going to make it work because that would just be unrealistic. JESSE: So I'm kind of curious, I mean, you changed sports several times, runner to cyclists, to triathlete and then like, doing the med school thing. Something I always have trouble with. So maybe I'm hoping you can help me and maybe anybody listening, like, how do you deal with the mental side of like changing priorities and saying, you know, trying to balance like, what is the priority and like, just because I kind of think about it in the sense that like, my identity was, I'm a runner, but then it's like, when I'm not just running anymore. Now I'm a triathlete. Am I a triathlete? Like how do you deal with that kind of change in priority mentally? CECILIA: Yeah, I guess I've really at each step I've kind of just dove in headfirst and like, put on the triathlon goggles like I'm in guys like - adopt me, I'm like here, I'm all in. And it was that way too, I started out this like soccer player was my first love and I was, you know, all into that. And then it was like, okay, soccer is gone. And now I'm all into the next thing. So and same with when I got into cycling, I didn't run a step for like three years. It was like I'm a cyclist now. Like this is it. And then sort of yeah, it was a little bit different when I went from cycling to triathlon because obviously you still are doing that sport. I guess I've always been really strongly like very competitive, but in a very like goal oriented way and looking forward to like perfecting the recipe of a new sport and like learning how I was going to go about that. And with this with triathlon, it was like, okay, how can I become -- teach myself to swim? And how can I, you know, get the best advice and go and kind of work on the form and have fun with it still. And so yeah, I guess it's a great question you asked, but I haven't even really thought about it quite like that. I've never had an identity crisis. I think I've just, like stormed in the room and been like, guys, like, I'm here. Like, I'm doing this, like, can I join you're swimming group, you know? JESSE: Maybe that's the whole solution is just like, don't hesitate. Like, if you decide this is what you're going to do, just do it wholeheartedly, you know? CECILIA: Yeah, definitely. I think I've struggled with that a little bit as far as like, you know, I think we call it imposter syndrome in med school and thinking, oh man, like all these other kids in my class are so serious about being doctors. And here I am, like taking two extra years to do triathlon. And maybe I'm not as serious as them, maybe I'm not as dedicated, and I think it has taken a little bit of grappling with me and I think I've -- it's easier now that I've gone through the match and I you know, got a great you know, match and a great outcome. So, makes it seems you know, validating but I think was a little bit hard for me to balance like those two identities and say, you know, I can have these two things that are both really important to me. And that doesn't make me like a lesser future doctor or a lesser, you know, triathlete and I can be both and I just need to, like, on the day to day, they sort of are competing, you know. But you have to, yeah, I guess just as the choices come at you, you know, am I going to get some extra sleep because I stayed up late working on an assignment, or am I going to get up for masters at 5:30? You know, each of those decisions, of course, comes at you like, day after day, multiple decisions a day, even that are micro, you know, level. And I think I find that challenging for sure. Like, what's the bigger priority? Like, what's the right thing to do here? And I think that yeah, it's tough. JESSE: Yeah, I mean, for whatever it's worth, I would say like you grappling with that kind of imposter syndrome, I guess my advice or hopefully, uplifting moment for you would be like, you're working on being the best Cecilia you can be not the best like Jim or Susan or whoever. Like the thing I kind of have embraced over time because I'm in a little bit of everything. Like I do a little bit of this, I do a little bit of that like it -- not to make light of mental illness, it's almost like ADD. I don't have ADD but it's that kind of very flitting from one thing to another, but also wanting to master everything. I kind of like embrace it in the sense that like, sometimes you don't know where those experiences are going to lead you. And those unique experiences will help you later on in ways you don't necessarily have the ability to see now. So, I guess that would be my moment of encouragement for you is, I think that those experiences will probably come together later at a time where you'll go ah, you'll see things a certain way that nobody else can see because of the journey you've been on. CECILIA: I like that. Go to Part 2 Go to Part 3

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