I am a fraud, I am an imposter

Sometimes you have had the sensation of which you are not as intelligent as your parents create?

Sometimes you think that in fact you are mediocre and that good extractions notes in the examinations because you have luck?

You have arrived at your limits, you will not be able to continue deceiving to you: in fact you are not good student. You are normalito. No, you are rather clumsy.

It looks at those companions who remove best notes. They raise the average and a world costs to you to arrive at the cutoff grade. You will never get to be as them. You begin to feel envy, even hatred. That makes you feel worse person€¦

Perhaps in fact you do not serve so you are studying.

syndrome of the imposter


You do not worry, you are not raro/a. Those sensations of unsuitability are very frequent and some statistics at some time describe it in a 30-40% of the students of their lives. In a study done on Internal Medicine residents, around a 43% imposters felt (1).

In 1978, Clance and Imes, two clinical psychologists, gave the name him of €œimposter phenomenon€. At the moment more with the name €œsyndrome of the imposter€ is known.


It consists of the belief that we are less able than we have pretended until now and in a short term of time the professors and our family are going it to discover. This belief persists in spite of the opposite evidence, as the simple fact that you have been able to be passing the studies course to course.

Initially it was described in women who secured professional high performances, but that felt inadequate and anxious on their profits. More ahead it was observed that these feelings also affect the men.

Between the students he is very frequent to find this at some time of life academic syndrome. In a fast investigation in Medline and Google, there am shortage several articles on this subject in magazines of infirmary, and special mentions to these feelings between foreign residents that are working in Canada (1). Also in Afro-American favored by special programs of academic and labor insertion.


One says that this syndrome often appears in people who secure great profits, in students who usually remove good notes. But in spite of the evidences, these students think that they obtain it thanks to the luck; or to external help; or because the rest of companions has studied little.


I cannot make an exhaustive compilation of the psychological theories that they are behind this syndrome, since I have not studied it so much. But there are some factors that draw attention to me and they remember my experience to me:

  • It is easy that they arise in new surroundings, according to Valerie Young, expert in this subject. So that you can have undergone it when home your university race. A new place, matters that never you have studied, majors exigencies€¦ is easy that until the best student of the institute it doubts itself /a until learns to handle itself in its new context.
  • Familiar labels of superiority: if during the school and the institute you have been a surpassed student, your parents will have spoken with pride of your capacities and of your intelligence and you will have believed in them. But when home the university you have tripped over the hard reality of the new subjects, the hard university professors, the classrooms full of tens and tens of students€¦ You can doubt seriously than your parents told you.

When the race begins; when it is arrived at the clinical subjects, different from all the previous one; when a subject is crossed to you that you do not like, it is normal to have difficulties! The matter raises a step, and little by little you learn to surpass that step: takings better notes, you find better books in the library, to memorise more information for the examinations.

But many students remain with the initial sensation of incapacity and fear, and they do not realize of which no longer she has sense to thus continue feeling. He is as if a small boy continued feeling fear to loosen of the hand of his mother when he already has been months walking. But the small children lose the fear and continue advancing, and end up running and jumping.


  • Often it is sufficient with giving account to you of which you are having those feelings of automatic form, and to learn to detect them as soon as they appear.
  • To comment it with companions and friendly that also have gotten it to suffer serves as help. When it give account you of which he is something current, it loses part of his threatening power. Until the same Einstein it doubted his merits towards the end of his days. If you do not dare to speak it openly at the moment, it reads on other people who have suffered it. Richard Felder, an engineering professor that has published numerous articles on the education of this field, suffered the same this syndrome and during its race as professor helped his students to surpass that anguish.
  • He breaks with the automatism: he looks for in your memory your passed triumphs, your shining works written, those examinations that you embroidered, that one subject that you were able to explain your friend and he allowed him to approve. Without a doubt they are there, or you would not have arrived where you are now. Ponlos and reviews them in writing from time to time.
  • It dates account from a thing: he is not the same €œincompetent being€ who €œto feel€ incompetent. Some think that if you feel something with force, he is real, and it is not thus. Valerie Young specifically works this aspect with its clients.
  • He accepts the praises that arrive to you from professors and good friendly. If they do them to you, he is because you have done something well. Ponlos and compares them with your sensations in writing, so that little by little you are improving your perception of the reality. David Dunning, an expert in social psychology of the University of Cornell, has demonstrated in several studies that we are very bad at the time of judging to us same. We leave then that helps those us that is near us.
  • Forget to you to be perfect. There is nobody perfect one! All those shining sportsmen or professors or investigators to those who we admired have had to work very hard to arrive where they are, because there was a little while in that still NO-TENAN-NI-IDEA. Federer and Nadal, two of the best tennis players of the world, even continue losing started off in their better seasons. It accepts that you either will not be able to take all the subjects perfectly to the examination. It does not pass anything if you approve some subject by the hairs. Beam accounts: your average at the end of the race will be seen very little affected.

Still memory how much it weighed to have removed €œonly€ approving to me in Anatomy I, English, Psychiatry and other subjects€¦ How much I thought that it was going to influence in my race€¦ Nothing else far from the reality. My English was bad during the University and improved during the residence, allowing me to work in England.  We learn day after day. If we are kind, we can learn new things continuously. That is, indeed, which causes that to live it is worth the trouble: to know more, to be better, to persecute illusions.



  1. Legassie J1, Zibrowski member state, Goldszmidt MA. Measuring resident well-being: impostorism and burnout syndrome in residency. J Gen Intern Med 2008; 23:1090-1094


Almudena Trinidad

I am otorrinolaring³loga doctor in a hospital of Madrid and Professor Asociada de Medicina in the UAM. I help Medicine students to develop more effective techniques of study to obtain better notes, to remember during more time and to feel like more happy insurances and with its studies.

5 Commentaries
  • Lorraine
    Published to 15:29 h, 22 August To respond

    I feel one failed. I take rare ones few days, those in which you read but you think that you will not approve in spite of the effort that beams, that what beams are bad. And you change of routine because you break the scheme that you must follow. And net ones for examination MIR do not raise your.

    • Almudena Trinidad
      Published to 08:48 h, 31 August To respond

      Hello, Lorraine: If you are studying the MIR, I understand your situation. These so long term examinations entail these problems, that is to say, happening through bassoon stages in which it costs to you to assimilate new knowledge.

      Academies MIR make competition among them with diverse methods, one of them offering more maneuverses. In my opinion, as much maneuvers is unnecessary for some students, and often counter-productive, unless you are from whom they down do not come by an evil result. It thinks that in this type of examination measurable advances in ample terms take place, as ample as what costs to give a return to the agenda, perhaps 2-3 months. Mainly if the maneuverses contain questions of all the specialties. It is logical therefore that much people have problems to raise net in this intermediate phase, the one that goes between the end of the summer and the home of the autumn.

      Another reason for the yield bassoons is that the academies design a unique curriculum, but each student is different. To some he will go to them well in this phase and will advance quickly and to others he will go to them bad. An academy is difficult to guess right the world yet. Also it is difficult students to adapt them to the rate of the academy.

      A detail that is very important: the academies you put it everything so easy, with excellent summaries, schemes, drawings, rules mnemonics, that your work of study at home can be returned very passive. In those cases, the brain becomes bored. Literally. All the experts recommend an active study in which you yourself you manipulate returned the thorough material and him DES. That implies to make your own schemes, your own questions of examination, etc. If your form to study only consists of rereading the manuals and the questions, you must introduce more variety. Perhaps remaking schemes of the subjects that you bring worse learned of the race. Not with all the subjects or subjects, clearly. Some them you can simply reread, but it sees alternating methods.

      Another way to alternate is to study some subject in a place different from the habitual one: a park, a library€¦

      I hope that these commentaries help you. A greeting, and to by the variety!

      • Mbb
        Published to 23:09 h, 12 July To respond

        Hello Almudena! I finish reading the post and there is very interesting similarity to me. I identify myself with many of the aspects that treat, I have lived something similar throughout the race. Sometimes we are not able to identify to what extent our surroundings and the pressure that autoimponemos us can get to decrease our capacities.
        In addition I am completely in agreement with your opinion about academies MIR. I have lived the experience this past year and it has not been as it waited for, so I am becoming to prepare. And I believe that it is fundamental to consider which you say. Each student is a world and the plans of the academies are not individualized. It can get to frustrate excessively if you do not adapt as the majority and is that as you say taking a standardized plan well and in addition with a great load to maneuverses in some cases she is, without a doubt, counter-productive. This time I am centering to me less in following the directives as far as techniques of study and proportionate schemes strictly, and more in elaborating my own schemes to internalise the material way, always within some minimum directives, of course, but without having anxiety to do something €œdifferent€ from which touches in the schedule.
        Really, adapting it and it forms to internalise the knowledge.
        For that reason I have liked much to read your opinion on the matter, is to me comforting.
        In addition I believe that it is an aspect that the academies would have to approach and to try openly much more.

        Perhaps my experience serves to which it finishes embarking in the adventure.

        A greeting and congratulations by the blog 🙂

        • Almudena Trinidad
          Published to 11:11 h, 14 July To respond

          Hello! Thanks to comment in the blog.

          In this post I did not mention academies MIR, reason why I clarify my position on the same: they do not seem detrimental to me. They either do not seem essential to me to prepare the MIR.

          A problem that I have detected in opponents MIR is that the passivity to read a material already perfectly made makes difficult to maintain the attention week to them after week, mainly in the first months (summer, heat, relatives of vacation€¦). In other cases, more than 30 maneuverses in less than 1 year it is to them more stressful than productive.

          With respect to the €œneurosis of the Medicine student€: they have received so many praises during the years of institute that have not phelp attention to their own inner sensations. When they fail in first of Medicine, they continue paying too much attention the external thing, the note. That way, they do not realize of which they have failed for want of suitable methodology. So that they are shelp €œI am idiot€, instead of €œI have used technical insufficient€, that is the real thing. You have entered the University, friend, already have demonstrated that you are intelligent 😉

  • What says the evidence? - Feedback in the clinical context - the Knife of Hanlon
    Published to 15:21 h, 10 December To respond

    [€¦]  This is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, and is one of the causes of the famous €œsyndrome of the Medicine imposter€. And here the key role of Feedback enters: to help €œto calibrate€ [€¦]

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