The Imposter Syndrome: Unlocking the Fear of Being Successful and Serving as a Leader

Saturday, April 25, 2015: 11:15 AM
Holiday 5 (Hilton Baltimore)
Tina Haney, DNP, CNS, Nursing, Old Dominion University/School of Nursing, Norfolk, VA
The term, “Imposter Syndrome”, was coined by Clance and Imes in 1978 to designate an “internal experience of intellectual phoniness”.  Individuals that experience the imposter phenomenon maintain a belief that they are not equipped to carry out their responsibilities and that they are fooling everyone who thinks otherwise.  These feelings of inferiority and self-doubt have paralyzed bright and successful professionals, preventing them from achieving their fullest potential.  Although the imposter syndrome has been discussed throughout psychology and sociology literature, little has been written in the nursing literature, and even less has been written with regards to preparing nurses to identify and manage these feelings. As NPs and other APRN’s are positioning themselves in our challenging healthcare system to be leaders and change agents, it is vital that they feel confident in these roles. This presentation will describe a program used to introduce and mentor DNP/NP students through the role the Imposter Syndrome has in their lives.  The students first participate in a one day experiential workshop where they are introduced to the Imposter Syndrome.  During the workshop, students complete the Clance Imposter Phenomenon Scale (CIPS) which helps them identify their levels of the phenomenon.  Students then identify a student peer to support them through the the remaining program. During the web-based course, students actively participate in online discussions and readings aimed at assisting them in overcoming feelings of inadequacies that they identify.  Upon completion of the course, students have overwhelmingly found the Imposter Syndrome testing and discussions empowering.  Surprisingly, all of the students in the course scored as having strong Imposter Syndrome tendencies.  Students reported a “liberation” and “empowerment” following the course exercises.  Examples of course content, student Imposter Syndrome results, and qualitative data from student comments will be discussed. Following the session, attendees will be able to: 1) provide curricular content and experiential programs to introduce students to the Imposter Syndrome, 2) develop strategies for addressing the phenomenon, and 3) mentor students in the steps of overcoming the Imposter Syndrome in order to unlock their fullest potential for success and leadership.
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