A pathway to a healthier you

Impostor syndrome

We experience imposter syndrome, just like many in the general population; it’s a human thing.

Many students, graduates and early career nurses and midwives report feeling inadequate, unworthy, and not up to the role. It’s useful when you learn there is a syndrome to explain this and to know, you aren’t alone. 

Imposter syndrome can creep up on you and create unproductive feelings of phoniness and unworthiness. Even some of the most confident nurse/midwife executives don’t believe they are worthy of their position and don’t accept the positive feedback they receive.

Almost everyone has experienced self-doubt, or one of the 4 associated feelings:

  • Anxiety 
  • Perfectionism 
  • Self-doubt 
  • Fear of failure 

10 signs that you may be experiencing Imposter Syndrome 

Watch out for: 

  • feeling not up to the job 
  • experiencing self-doubt 
  • feeling unworthy of career success or advancement   
  • reduced satisfaction in your career 
  • change in your job performance 
  • feeling afraid to speak about your feelings with others or asking for help because you feel ashamed of falling short in your career 
  • inability to acknowledge your accomplishments 
  • high stress levels 
  • burnout 
  • anxiety and fear of both success and failure, which may result in not seeking promotion or growth, or leaving your profession. 

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Tips for managing imposter syndrome

  • Develop a mantra: “I am enough, I’m worthy of being a nurse/midwife and doing the job.” 
  • Keep a journal: document your feelings, why you may be experiencing them and how you plan to manage them.
  • Talk to a colleague, friend or family member about your feelings and concerns. 
  • Challenge negative self-talk. When you realise you are having negative thoughts, take a deep breath, acknowledge the thought as not useful, and let it float away. Remind yourself of something you like about yourself. Repeat it. 
  • Engage in regular clinical supervision – reflective practice can help make sense of complex feelings. 
  • Create space for a weekly stock take of what you have achieved, why you are worthy to be a nurse/midwife, deserving of a promotion, able to take on more study. 

Having intense feelings of unworthiness, inadequacy, and experiencing self-doubt in your capabilities. It’s described as holding the fear of being a fraud, as if you’re hiding a secret, and eventually will be “found out” or exposed. 

You worry that it’ll be revealed you were “faking it” as a nurse/midwife and have been trying to fool everyone into believing your competency. 

Acknowledge your achievements because that will give you back your confidence. This is where Imposter Syndrome is coming in, you are becoming less than less … you've studied for 3 years, you went to your placement, you submitted your assessments, and you have researched, evidence-based research that you have written up and submitted to your university … you have those skills, you have that knowledge. It might not be perfect and might not be strong, but you have those skills.