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Implementation of a “Best Self” Exercise to Decrease Imposter Phenomenon in Residents


Journal of Graduate Medical Education


Organisational Behaviour

Authors / Editors

Rydberg M G;Appleton L K;Fried A J;Cable D;Bynum D L


Publication Year



Background: Imposter phenomenon (IP) is common in medicine. An intervention from the business world, the Reflected Best Self Exercise (RBSE), in which an individual elicits stories of themselves at their best, has not been studied in medical residents. Objective: To determine the feasibility of implementing the RBSE and its potential for reducing IP in residents. Methods: All incoming internal medicine and medicine-pediatrics interns in the 2022-2023 academic year at a single institution were invited to complete the RBSE. Participants elicited stories from contacts prior to beginning residency and received their stories during intern orientation in a 1-hour session led by one author with no prior training. Cost and time requirements were assessed. IP was measured via the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale (CIPS) at baseline, 1 month, and 6 months following the RBSE. Informal feedback on the RBSE was collected via surveys at 1 month and 6 months. Results: Nineteen of 35 interns (54.3%) completed the RBSE. It cost $75 per participant, for a total cost of $1,425. Twenty-eight of 35 (80%) completed the baseline CIPS, with scores similar between participants and nonparticipants (64.9 vs 68.9). CIPS scores were lower in participants at 1 month (57.6 vs 69.6) and 6 months (55.6 vs 64.5) but did not meet statistical significance. Survey feedback from participants suggested the intervention was beneficial. Conclusions: Implementing the RBSE in residents was feasible with reasonable cost and time commitment. It appeared highly acceptable to residents, with some promise of effects on an IP scale.

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