Women in Medicine Summit

Women in Medicine Summit

Source:

Rice J, et al. Imposter syndrome among minority medical students who are underrepresented in medicine. Presented at: Women in Medicine Summit; Sept. 24-25, 2021 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Healio Primary Care could not confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.
September 24, 2021
2 min read
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97% of medical students experience imposter syndrome, survey finds

Source:

Rice J, et al. Imposter syndrome among minority medical students who are underrepresented in medicine. Presented at: Women in Medicine Summit; Sept. 24-25, 2021 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Healio Primary Care could not confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.
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Moderate to intense feelings of imposter syndrome are extremely prevalent among medical students, according to survey results presented at the Women in Medicine Summit.

“Imposter syndrome is the feeling of self-doubt and fear of being exposed as a fraud,” Jayne Rice, BS, MD, an integrated vascular surgery resident at the University of Pennsylvania, said during her presentation.

Hospital hall
Almost all medical students experience imposter syndrome, according to a speaker at the Women in Medicine Summit. Source: Adobe Stock.

Rice, who said she was personally affected by imposter syndrome, set out to assess the prevalence of this syndrome among medical students, particularly those belonging to underrepresented groups in medicine. She compiled survey results from 284 medical students. Among them, 187 were studying at a predominantly white institution (PWI) and 97 were studying at a historically Black college or university (HBCU).

Rice and colleagues used a scale system to evaluate students’ level of imposter syndrome. A score of less than 40 correlated with few feelings of imposter syndrome; a score of 40 to 60 indicated moderate imposter syndrome; a score of 61 to 80 indicated frequent imposter syndrome; and a score of 81 to 100 indicated intense imposter syndrome.

Overall, the survey results revealed that 97% of medical students experienced moderate to intense feelings of imposter syndrome. Half of the students surveyed reported frequent imposter syndrome. Meanwhile, 38% reported moderate, 9% intense and 3% low imposter syndrome.

Students studying at PWIs were 3.9 times more likely to report frequent or intense feelings of imposter syndrome compared with students at HBCUs, according to Rice. The results further showed that students of underrepresented groups in medicine at PWIs were 2.3 times more likely to report frequent or intense imposter syndrome compared with students of underrepresented groups at HBCUs.

Among the entire study cohort, women were 2.2 times more likely to report frequent or intense imposter syndrome compared with men (P < .031). In addition, women from historically underrepresented groups reported significantly higher levels of imposter syndrome than men at PWIs and HBCUs.

“I believe my study informs institutions that medical students who are clearly high-achieving individuals had these self-doubts, and research has shown that feelings of imposter syndrome can translate into mental health challenges, like depression and anxiety,” Rice said.

She added that supporting students while in medical school can help them overcome imposter syndrome feelings later in their careers.