Prevalence of Impostor Phenomenon among Medical Students in a Malaysian Private Medical School
Background: Impostor phenomenon is described as an "internal experience of intellectual fraudulence" among high achievers, which include medical students who often doubt their ability to become good doctors in the future. This study sought to determine the prevalence of impostor phenomenon among medical students and how impostorism is correlated with other psychological distresses namely anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.
Methods: To conduct this cross-sectional study, various scales were distributed to all 4th-year medical students in Melaka-Manipal Medical College (MMMC), Muar campus to measure impostorism, depression, anxiety and self-esteem. Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale (CIPS) was used to measure impostorism and a score of 62 was set as the cut off value to classify a participant as an "imposter".
Results: Out of 300, 256 (85.3%) students completed the questionnaires. 48% and 44% of male and female students respectively scored as ‘impostors’ with no significant difference between the two genders. Positive correlations were noted between impostor phenomenon with low self-esteem (rho=0.56), depression (rho=0.42) and anxiety (rho=0.41). Impostors significantly have stronger intentions of quitting medical school (p < 0.001) and felt that they were not ready to cope with challenges during housemanship (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: Impostors suffer greatly from psychological distress. They are not confident to face the future challenges of housemanship and have stronger intentions of quitting the course. It is necessary for medical colleges to acknowledge this feeling and help the students to cope with it to ensure a smooth transition from medical school to housemanship period.
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