Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two part series.
Many of you may have heard the term Imposter Syndrome. Dr. Jaime Hope gave an incredible lecture on this topic at FIX in 2017. I first had the pleasure of listening to her give this talk at the ACOEP Spring Seminar this April. I was intrigued and personally touched by Dr. Hope’s lecture. As she described this syndrome I concluded that I personally suffer from this.
For those unfamiliar, imposter syndrome is a phenomenon that affects highly achieving people (usually females). The person believes they are a fake and are fooling others into believing they are smart and successful, but that eventually they will be exposed for their true capabilities. This syndrome is highly common and has affected famous individuals such as Meryl Streep and Maya Angelou. Dr. Hope energetically explained this and gave fantastic ideas on how to battle our own tendencies to negate our personal achievements which Jaime terms “automatic negative thoughts or ‘ANTS.’”
As Dr. Hope talked about how people with Imposter Syndrome don’t actually believe they are deserving of their successes, it reminded me of when I applied for the position of Associate Program Director for our residency 2 years ago. When the job opened up I could think of nothing else but how much I wanted to do it! BUT I didn’t feel like I would stand out as the top applicant and surely no one would believe I would be the best one to hire. When considering my qualifications I knew I had poured myself into my position as core faculty for our residency. I volunteered to help with any task needed, had almost 100% attendance at all our events, and spent hours and hours preparing every lecture I gave to the residents. BUT I knew hard work wasn’t enough…an APD had to be special. I didn’t have any “specialness.” However our residency leadership believed I could it and hired me!! But even after my awesome promotion I still attributed my new title to luck and to the fact that I was the only one who applied. I just knew in my head that if anyone else had applied I would not have got the job.
So YES I definitely suffer from Imposter Syndrome. Hearing Dr. Hope explain what this is and how we can “treat” it inspired me to learn more about it and about her. I wanted to ask her more about what led to her basically becoming the keynote speaker for Imposter Syndrome. It was amazing she could take a topic like this and turn it into a funny, engaging and heartfelt lecture that has the potential to apply to so many of us in the medical field. She was more than willing to answer all of my questions.
Check out Part 2 next week to read what Dr. Hope had to say.
A version of this article was originally published in ACOEP’s newsletter “The Pulse.”