• Define and understand impostor syndrome and how imposter syndrome applies to physicians.
  • Explore ways to manage and overcome impostor syndrome.
  • Recognize the language, behavior, and actions of those who have impostor syndrome.
  • Develop strategies to identify and coach colleagues and mentees who are suffering from impostor syndrome.


  1. Investigate the risk factors for developing impostor syndrome, and its impact on professionals.
  2. Utilize the Clance Impostor Phenomenon scale to help determine if you suffer from impostor syndrome.
  3. Reflect on language and social phenomena that perpetuate impostor syndrome.
  4. Discuss how impostor syndrome disproportionately affects women, and explore solutions to address this.
  5. Identify specific characteristics of impostor syndrome in others and what actions we can take to help those who are suffering from impostor syndrome.
  6. Practice specific techniques to combat impostor syndrome.

Module Content


Why You Get Impostor Syndrome And How to Overcome It

Objective: 1
Dr. Tara Swart
3 minutes

Neuroscientist and medical doctor explains the science behind why people get impostor syndrome. A basic need for a sense of belonging drives a lot of impostor syndrome. Connectivity with others helps overcome it.

"Rising to the Level of Your Incompetence": What Physicians' Self-Assessment of Their Performance Reveals About the Imposter Syndrome in Medicine

Objective: 1
Kori A LaDonna, Shiphra Ginsburg, & Christopher Watling
15 minutes

This study looks at the correlation between impostor syndrome and physician error. The study shows that impostor syndrome presents at the extreme end of self doubt.

The Impostor Syndrome with Dr. Valerie Young

Objective: 1
Dr. Valerie Young
44 minutes

This podcast addresses the reason people feel like impostors, how women and men experience impostor syndrome differently, and discusses how important it is for leadership to recognize when their employees are suffering from impostor syndrome. For a shorter option, watch this 8 minute TedTalk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7v-GG3SEWQ

Clance Impostor Syndrome Scale

Objective: 2
Pauline Rose Clance
10 minutes

The Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale is a validated and well studied measure which can help you determine if you have imposter syndrome and how severe. From The Impostor Phenomenon: When Success Makes You Feel Like A Fake(pp. 20-22), by P.R. Clance, 1985, Toronto: Bantam Books. Copyright 1985 by Pauline Rose Clance, Ph.D., ABPP

Impostor syndrome and burnout among American medical students: a pilot study

Objective: 3
Jennifer A. Villwock, Lindsay B. Sobin, Lindsey A. Koester & Tucker M. Harris
10 minutes

This study looks at a group of medical students and shows that women are more likely to be impacted by impostor syndrome. This study also shows burnout was higher in those with impostor syndrome. The study then calls for further research in how medical school is taught and potential for change.

Imposter Syndrome Hits Harder When You're Black

Objective: 3
Jolie A. Doggett
10 minutes

Huffington Post article analyzes how societal messages cause imposter syndrome to impact minorities more significantly than others. The article discusses how a sense of "otherness" leads to increased rates of anxiety and depression as well. For a deeper dive, check out the following journal article, https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2017-09930-002

The Impostor Phenomenon in High Achieving Woman : Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention

Objective: 3
Clance, P. R., & Imes, S. A.
15 minutes

This article points out four factors that contribute to the maintenance of impostor feelings and gives therapeutic changes to help resolve feelings of impostor syndrome. It also discusses possible reasons women are more prone to exhibiting impostor syndrome compared to men.

Impostor Syndrome: Treat the Cause, Not the symptom

Objective: 4
Samyukta Mullangi & Reshma Jagsi
5 minutes

Imposter syndrome can be linked to inequities and lack of diversity in our medical education and leadership systems. By promoting equitable representation of women and minorities in leadership positions through systems-level interventions, the authors suggest this may help decrease the amount of impostor syndrome women experience.

5 Different Types of Impostor Syndrome (and 5 Ways to Battle Each One)

Melody J. Wilding

This article, written by a social worker and performance coach, analyzes research from Dr. Valerie Young and explores 5 different types of impostor syndrome. The perfectionist, the superwoman/man, the natural genius, the soloist, and the expert.

Letter to a Young Physician

Objective: 5
Suzanne Koven, M.D.
5 minutes

This great prose talks about how as female physicians we are more prone to exhibit imposter syndrome and gives us the reminder that while we still face gender inequality in medicine, that we can be successful and overcome adversity.

Impostor Syndrome: Could It be Holding Your Mentees Back?

Objective: 5
Subani Chandra, MD, FCCP; Candace A. Huebert, MD, FCCP; Erin Crowley, MD; & Aneesa M. Das
10 minutes

This article discusses how mentors and trainees can talk about recognizing and addressing imposter syndrome during their training.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome - Don't Fake it, You've Made it!

Objective: 6
Jaime Hope, MD
20 minutes

This article and 20 minute video by Dr. Jaime Hope at FIX17. She brings up imposter syndrome, and then goes through the different manifestations of imposter syndrome as "diagnosis and treatment."

Talking Points and Discussion Questions

  1. Take this Imposter Syndrome Quiz. Did your score surprise you? Did the coaching underneath the quiz impact you?

  2. What type of imposter syndrome do you experience? Do you identify with any of the 5 subtypes?

  3. Have you experienced burnout? If yes, do you think that imposter syndrome contributed to your burnout? Do you think that societal influences have contributed to how you have experienced imposter syndrome and burnout?

  4. What specific actions will you take to combat imposter syndrome in yourself and others? What institutional or societal changes do you feel would decrease imposter syndrome?

Dive Deeper

Module Authors and Reviewers

Jenny Beck-Esmay, MD

Meghan Plunkett, 2d Lt

Jenny Beck-Esmay, MD

Danielle Wickman, MD