Articles and Case Studies

Feeling like an imposter?

09 Jun 2021

by Gemma Brudenell

Feeling like an imposter

Chris Martin, Dr Margaret Chan and Maya Angelou – what do they all have in common? They, among many others, have admitted to feeling like a fraud.1

Imposter phenomenon (IP) mainly afflicts high achievers and people with perfectionist tendencies.2

It’s most common at early career stages or at times of transition, and in careers that have high levels of expectation and a high cost of mistakes.3

More than low self-confidence, IP involves a pattern of thinking where success is attributed to factors beyond our control, and a constant fear of exposure, isolation and rejection.4 These thoughts can be overwhelming, affecting mental health and causing people to change careers or decide to not go on with their training.5

Syndrome or phenomenon?

Although imposter syndrome is the term commonly used, it was actually first (and more accurately) documented as imposter phenomenon6 – because IP is not a diagnosable condition as the term ‘syndrome’ suggests.


If you answered ‘often’ or ‘always’ to most of these questions, you may be experiencing IP. Please note these results are not an official diagnosis – if you have concerns, talk to your GP or mental health provider.

It can help to:

  • talk about what you’re going through with someone else3,5 
  • focus on what you’re doing well and acknowledge your success2,3
  • pay attention to situations where you feel like an imposter and challenge these thoughts with evidence.2


Podcast icon


Member-only podcasts on imposter syndrome:

  • Part one, Feeling like a fraud? – focuses on how imposter syndrome is experienced (18 minutes)
  • Part two, Taking action – explores multiple strategies for responding to maladaptive imposter thoughts (22 minutes)

For all: 6-minute excerpt of the podcasts.

Stay updated with the latest medico-legal content

Subscribe to MDA National’s biannual Member publication, Defence Update, for the latest medico-legal updates, articles and case studies.

Subscribe now


1.   Shorten K. High-Achievers Suffering From ‘Imposter Syndrome’. Available here.
2.   Gazelle G. How Overcoming the Imposter Syndrome Decreases Physician Burnout. Available here.
3.   Stark J. Am I Normal? Imposter Syndrome. Available here.
4.   Trehan D. Imposter Syndrome is a Growing Problem for Young People. Available here.
5.   Lewin E. 'I Thought It Was Just Me': Registrars and Impostor Syndrome. Available here.
6.   Clance P, Imes S. The Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention. Available here.


Doctors Health and Wellbeing, Anaesthesia, Dermatology, Emergency Medicine, General Practice, Intensive Care Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ophthalmology, Pathology, Practice Manager Or Owner, Psychiatry, Radiology, Sports Medicine, Surgery, Physician, Geriatric Medicine, Cardiology, Plastic And Reconstructive Surgery, Radiation Oncology, Paediatrics, Independent Medical Assessor - IME, Gastroenterology


Doctors Let's Talk: Get Yourself A Fricking GP

Get yourself a fricking GP stat! is a conversation with Dr Lam, 2019 RACGP National General Practitioner of the Year, rural GP and GP Anesthetics trainee, that explores the importance of finding your own GP as a Junior Doctor.


25 Oct 2022

Systematic efforts to reduce harms due to prescribed opioids – webinar recording

Efforts are underway across the healthcare system to reduce harms caused by pharmaceutical opioids. This 43-min recording of a live webinar, delivered 11 March 2021, is an opportunity for prescribers to check, and potentially improve, their contribution to these endeavours. Hear from an expert panel about recent opioid reforms by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. 

Diplomacy in a hierarchy: tips for approaching a difficult conversation

Have you found yourself wondering how to broach a tough topic of conversation? It can be challenging to effectively navigate a disagreement with a co-worker, especially if they're 'above' you; however, it's vital for positive team dynamics and safe patient care. In this recording of a live webinar you'll have the opportunity to learn from colleagues' experiences around difficult discussions and hear from a diverse panel moderated by Dr Kiely Kim (medico-legal adviser and general practitioner). Recorded live on 2 September 2020.