From the Bedside to the Boardroom

Imposter Syndrome in Nursing Leadership
Published:November 07, 2022DOI:
      Nurse leaders have a complex role in patient and staff outcomes. Nurses graduate from nursing schools clinically proficient but may lack leadership and team-building skills. This may lead to an imbalance in the executive suite and result in nurse leaders developing imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome can occur at times of career transition, and emerging nurse leaders may be particularly affected. Education focused on topics such as peer-mentoring, reflection, and identification of attributes can help combat feelings associated with imposter syndrome and increase authentic leadership capabilities in nurse leaders.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Nurse Leader
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Clance P.R.
        • Imes S.A.
        The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women; dynamics and therapeutic intervention.
        Psychotherapy. 1978; 15: 241-247
        • Barrow J.M.
        Impostorism: an evolutional concept analysis.
        Nurs Forum. 2019; 54: 127-136
        • Sakulku J.
        • James A.
        The imposter phenomenon.
        Int J Behav Sci. 2011; 6: 75-97
        • Rivera N.
        • Feldman E.A.
        • Augustin D.A.
        • Caceres W.
        • Gans H.A.
        • Blankenburg R.
        Do I belong here? Confronting imposter syndrome at an individual, peer, and institutional level in health professions.
        MedEDPORTAL. 2021; 1711166
        • Wu S.
        • Chen W.
        • Chen W.
        • Zheng W.
        Effects of cultural intelligence and imposter syndrome on school belonging through academic resilience among university students with vocational backgrounds.
        Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022; 19: 7944
        • Alrayyes S.
        • Dar U.F.
        • Alrayes M.
        • Alghutayghit A.
        • Alrayyes N.
        Burnout and imposter syndrome among Saudi young adults.
        Saudi Med J. 2020; 41: 189-194
        • Maftei A.
        • Dumitriu A.
        • Holman A.C.
        “They will discover I’m a fraud!” the imposter syndrome among psychology students.
        Stud Psychol. 2019; 63: 337-351
        • Bravata D.M.
        • Watts S.A.
        • Keefer A.L.
        • et al.
        Prevalence, predictors, and treatment of imposter syndrome: a systematic review.
        J Gen Intern Med. 2019; 35: 1252-1275
        • Cusak C.
        • Hughes J.
        • Nuhu N.
        Connecting gender and mental health to imposter phenomenon feelings.
        Psi Chi J Psychol Res. 2013; 18: 74-81
        • Bernard D.L.
        • Jones S.C.T.
        • Volpe V.V.
        Imposter phenomenon and psychological well-being: the moderating roles of John Henryism and school of racial composition among Black college students.
        J Black Psychol. 2020; 46: 195-227
        • Jostl G.
        • Steinberg E.
        • Luflenegger M.
        • Schober B.
        When will they blow my cover? The imposter phenomenon among Austrian doctoral students.
        Z Psychol. 2012; 220: 109-120
        • Glover E.J.
        Understanding imposter syndrome among nurses.
        Am J Nurs Off Charts. 2021;
        • Chakraverty D.
        • Rishi M.
        Imposter phenomenon and discipline specific experience of violence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
        Violence Gend. 2021; 9: 23-29
        • Goman C.K.
        How women can escape imposter syndrome. Forbes.
        • Ling F.Y.
        • Zhang Z.
        • Tay S.Y.L.
        Imposter syndrome and gender stereotypes: Female facility managers work outcomes and job situations.
        J Manag Educ. 2020; 36 (040200061.1–12)
        • Feenstra S.
        • Begency C.
        • Ryan M.
        • Rink F.
        • Stoker J.
        • Jordan J.
        Contextualizing the imposter “syndrome“.
        Front Psychol. 2020; 11575024
        • Cokley K.
        • Smith L.
        • Bernarnd D.
        • et al.
        Imposter feelings as a moderator and mediator of the relationship between perceived discrimination and mental health among racial/ethnic minority college students.
        J Couns Psychol. 2017; 64: 141
        • Robertson J.
        Dealing With Imposter Syndrome.
        EqualBITE. Sense Publishers, UK2018: 146-151
        • Afran A.
        • Cruz T.
        • Kaushal A.
        • Kobuse Y.
        • Wang K.
        Why is there a higher rate of imposter syndrome among BIPOC?.
        Int Socioecon Lab. 2020; 11: 1-17
        • Chakraverty D.
        A cultural imposter? Native American experiences of imposter phenomenon in STEM.
        CBE Life Sci Educ. 2022; 21: 1-15
        • Arleo E.K.
        • Wagner-Schuman M.
        • McGinty G.
        • Salazar G.
        • Mayr N.A.
        Tackling imposter syndrome: a multidisciplinary approach.
        Clin Imaging. 2021; 74: 170-172
        • Farrell M.
        Leadership reflections: leadership paradoxes.
        J Libr Admin. 2018; 58: 166-173
        • Wang M.
        • Guan H.
        • Li Y.
        • Xing C.
        • Rui B.
        Academic burnout and professional self-concept of nursing students: a cross-sectional study.
        Nurse Educ Today. 2019; 77: 27-31
        • Ocho O.C.
        • Wheeler E.
        • Sheppard C.
        • Caesar-Greasley L.
        • Rigby J.
        • Tomblin-Murphy G.
        Nurses’ preparation for transitioning into positions of leadership—a Caribbean perspective.
        J Nurs Manag. 2020; 28: 1356-1363
        • Harris T.
        The reality for minorities exploring nurse executive leadership.
        J Nurs Adm. 2021; 51: E18-E19
        • Bandura A.
        Self-efficacy: toward a unifying theory of behavioral change.
        Psychol Rev. 1977; 84: 191-215
        • Cziraki K.
        • Read E.
        • Spence-Laschinger H.K.
        • Wong C.
        Nurses’ leadership self-efficacy, motivation, and career aspirations.
        Leadersh Health Serv (Bradf Engl). 2018; 31: 47-61
        • Molina R.
        • Ricciotti H.
        • Chie L.
        • Luckett R.
        • Wylie B.J.
        • Woolcock E.
        • Scott J.
        Creating a culture of micro-affirmations to overcome gender-based micro-inequities in academic medicine.
        Am J Med. 2019; 132: 785-787
        • Hutchins H.M.
        • Rainbolt H.
        What triggers imposter phenomenon among academic faculty? A critical incident study exploring antecedents, coping, and developmental opportunities.
        Hum Resour Dev Int. 2017; 20: 194-214
        • Winter S.J.
        SBM Mid-Career Leadership Institute: replacing ‘fake it till you make it’ with authentic leadership.
        Transl Behav Med. 2020; 10: 909-911
        • Flatekval A.M.
        • Corbo S.A.
        Nurse manager self-reported competency levels.
        Nurs Manag. 2019; 50: 28-33
        • Ramseur P.
        • Fuchs M.A.
        • Edwards P.
        • Humphreys J.
        The implementation of a structured nursing leadership development program for succession planning in a health system.
        J Nurs Adm. 2018; 48: 25-30
        • Gottlieb M.
        • Chung A.
        • Battaglioli N.
        • Sebok-Syer S.S.
        • Kalantari A.
        Imposter syndrome among physicians and physicians in training: a scoping review.
        Med Educ. 2020; 54: 116-124


      Karen R. Fowler, PhD, RN, CENP, Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Texas. Email: [email protected]; Lizette Villanueva, PhD, RN, CNE, CHW, Assistant Professor, Texas Tech University Health Science Center, Hunt School of Nursing, El Paso, Texas.