Imposter phenomenon increases burnout and thoughts of suicide in doctors
A study published by Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that imposter phenomenon – the persistent belief that one’s success is undeserved rather that due to skill and ability – is common among U.S. physicians.
Among those physicians surveyed by the research team, 36.4% showed moderate IP experiences, 17.4% had frequent IP experiences, and 5.8% had intense IP experiences.
Physicians showed a greater intensity of imposter phenomenon (IP) than workers in other fields in response to “I am disappointed at times in my present accomplishments and think I should have accomplished more.” Not only are imposter experiences common among U.S. physicians, they also have more frequent experiences of disappointment in accomplishments than workers in other fields. For U.S. medical students, more than one in four experience IP.
These experiences are also associated with increased burnout, suicidal thoughts, and lower professional fulfillment, according to researchers. Although physicians have higher levels of personal resilience than workers in other fields, they have lower levels of self-valuation, which can result in physicians being empathetic with others, but self-critical and perfectionistic with themselves.
Researchers say the consequences are that IP is associated with both personal issues like low emotional well-being, work-life integration problems, depression, and suicide, plus professional issues that may manifest as impaired job performance and occupational burnout.
Imposter phenomenon is common in both men and women, though some studies suggest it may be more prevalent in women.