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The Impact of Imposter Syndrome in the Medical Community
  • 09 Jan 2024
  • Mental Health

The American Medical Association (AMA) surveyed 3,000 physicians, highlighting nearly 1 in 4 physicians experience frequent or intense symptoms of Imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is a concept as old as time itself, no matter how much some people achieve, some will always attribute their successes to luck, timing or people opening doors to help them get in the right room.

For those who are unaware of the medical term for this feeling, according to Medroom, imposter syndrome can be described as, “a psychological phenomenon in which an individual experiences feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and fraudulence despite having accomplished significant achievements.”

But what you may not know is that within the medical community, imposter syndrome is rife. This phenomenon initially came to our attention after speaking to the CEO and founder of You Okay Doc?, Dr. Daniel Gearon. When Daniel visited us, we were keen to hear about his personal experience of Imposter Syndrome.

To help demonstrate how imposter syndrome can impact different individuals in a variety of ways, we wanted to share the 5 subtypes of Imposter syndrome:

1)Perfectionist: insecurity related to self-imposed, unachievable goals.

2)Expert: feeling inadequate from lacking sufficient knowledge.

3)Super-person: assuming excessive workloads to feel okay among peers.

4)Natural genius: experiencing shame when it takes effort to develop a skill.

5)Soloist: believing that requesting help is a sign of weakness.

Do any of these sound familiar to you?

2 Reasons physicians are strongly impacted by Imposter syndrome.

1) The medical industry is a highly advanced, ever-evolving landscape. As a result, even the most intelligent individuals may be out of the loop as new processes are developed, new medicines are created, and more effective cures are discovered.

2) The personnel who enter the medical community are typically extremely intelligent and talented individuals. So, when these gifted individuals begin their courses, they may feel that they aren’t as intelligent as they once thought. However, the reality is medical individuals feel average as they are comparing themselves to some of the best and brightest around the country.

4 ways to Control Your Feelings of Imposter Syndrome

1) Look back on how far you have come so far in your career, recognise how many obstacles you have overcome, and all the achievements you have accomplished along the way. By looking back on the trials and tribulations you have overcome, you may accept that you deserve to be in the position you’re in.

2) By sharing your concerns with colleagues, they can help you to process your thoughts are irrational or help you to rationalise the negative thoughts by sharing their own experiences of negative mental health.

3) Understand perfection is a nearly unachievable feat. When meeting the expectations of one of the most demanding roles, on a physical and emotional level, appreciate what you are doing rather than rationalising that you should be doing more.

4) Understand Imposter syndrome is a common feeling amongst the medical community, as we said, nearly 1 in 4 physicians experience imposter syndrome. By rationalising that these emotions are normal, it may alleviate the negative feelings elicited by Imposter syndrome.

At Pastest, we understand how stressful it can be as a medicine student and the importance of looking after your mental health to succeed in the high-pressure environment of medical school. For more invaluable advice on how to look after your mental health and well-being, please read the rest of our blogs relating to mental health.


Feel like an imposter physician? It won’t stop when residency’s over | American Medical Association (

How to identify and overcome imposter syndrome among doctors (

The Imposter Syndrome in Physicians - Mayo Clinic Proceedings

  • 09 Jan 2024
  • Mental Health