Impostor syndrome in nurses and how to overcome it

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During a recent podcast, nurse administrator Vernell Davis discussed reasons a nurse might be written up.The most common was being late to work. .Another reason was not letting our nurse leader know far enough in advance that you won't be able to work.Failure to communicate promptly and accurately can result in a reprimand, Davis said.Behavior issues, such as outbursts or expressing your personal opinions at work, can lead to a reprimand

Impostorism isn’t a new phenomenon, but it can be dangerous for health care providers

At some point in their career, nearly everyone faces self-doubt. Am I good enough? Why did I think I could do this? For nurses — who quite literally hold people’s lives in their hands — experiencing “impostor syndrome” can be dangerous not just for their career but also for their patients.

According to Harvard, “the ‘impostor phenomenon’ (aka ‘impostor syndrome’) was first described by American clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978 as an ‘internal experience of intellectual phoniness’ experienced by those with ‘outstanding academic and professional achievements.’”

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People who experience impostor syndrome “discount their own efforts and talents when explaining their successes, instead citing situational factors like luck, timing or inadvertently fooling others about their intelligence,” Harvard wrote.

Clance even developed a self-test for those who wonder if they’re suffering from impostor phenomenon.

Those in the health care field, wrote, “are in the perfect position to experience impostor syndrome for the following reasons”:

  • Nurses might feel an enormous sense of pressure, considering they are in such a highly respected profession.
  • Nursing school is difficult.
  • Nursing graduates are quickly put in high-stress, mentally and physically demanding roles.
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Their website suggests three ways to overcome these feelings:

  • Change your mindset: Whenever you doubt yourself, replace those negative thoughts with positive ones. Remind yourself of your achievements.
  • Surround yourself with the right people: Find a mentor or colleagues who have gone through the same thing. These people can provide resources or just be a sounding board.
  • Share your feelings: The people in tip two can help you with tip three. Because many people with impostor feelings suffer in silence, talking with a trusted colleague or mentor can give you a new perspective.

As your confidence grows, your feelings of impostorism will diminish.

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