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A Piece of My Mind
August 6, 2019

Imposter Syndrome: Treat the Cause, Not the Symptom

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Healthcare Delivery Science and Innovation, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, New York
  • 2Department of Medicine, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York
  • 3Department of Radiation Oncology, Michigan Medicine, Ann Arbor
  • 4Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • 5Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
JAMA. 2019;322(5):403-404. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.9788

A few weeks ago, a Twitter account called @womeninmedchat facilitated an online conversation about imposter syndrome in medicine. Imposter syndrome is a psychological term that refers to a pattern of behavior wherein people (even those with adequate external evidence of success) doubt their abilities and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud. Online, there were numerous responses: women talked frankly about how they attributed accomplishments to luck or good timing instead of merit, voicing fears that they had simply duped others with an illusion of competence.

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    1 Comment for this article
    We almost all had imposter syndrome
    Dan Field, MD | MDstaffers
    I am a male without any desire for perfection who got into what was rated as the 3rd best medical school in the country (1979). It was a crapshoot ( > 4000 applicants for 70 spots) to get into medical school and so it seems like it goes without saying we all felt undeserving. More than 30 years later I still suffer from impostor syndrome even as I refuse to let it interfere with achieving my goals.
    CONFLICT OF INTEREST: None Reported
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