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Impostor Phenomenon Among Family Medicine Residency Program Directors: A CERA Study.

Family Medicine 2023 September
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Impostor phenomenon (IP) can be described as feelings of inadequacy that exist despite apparent success. Although IP may be related to multiple important outcomes in physicians, it has not been examined among residency program directors (PDs).

METHODS: The seven-item Leary Impostorism Scale (LIS) was added to the 2021 Council of Academic Family Medicine Educational Research Alliance (CERA) PD survey. In addition to standard questions, we surveyed PDs about their likelihood to leave their role, whether they started their PD role due to an unexpected transition, their beliefs concerning workplace evaluations relative to self-assessed performance, and their perceived support in completing PD responsibilities.

RESULTS: Of the 257 PDs included in the survey (response rate approximately 41%), 28% (N=71) reported no IP. IP did not statistically differ across gender or race. LIS scores were lower among Hispanic/Latino respondents, but only 8% of our sample (N=20) identified as Hispanic/Latino. LIS scores did not significantly differ by PD likelihood to leave their position or for PDs starting their position due to a sudden transition. Respondents who felt that evaluations overestimated actual performance had higher LIS scores, as did those with lower levels of perceived support in completing administrative responsibilities and those with less time in their PD role.

CONCLUSIONS: Most PD respondents did not report high levels of IP. Short duration of PD role, lack of programmatic support, and negative self-evaluations were correlated with higher levels of IP. Future research should examine interventions or resources to help those with IP thrive.

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