Theses Doctoral

Navigating the Impostor Phenomenon: The Lived Experience of Nurse Leaders

Adiguzel, Arzu

The Institute of Medicine identifies nurses as being in a position to become a powerful force for change in our healthcare system through their leadership. The impostor phenomenon is a psychological pattern in which individuals doubt their skills, talents, or accomplishments, or may have internalized fears of being exposed. In a time when nurse leaders are needed the most, these feelings may prevent nurses from advancing their careers and to lead. While a plethora of studies have examined this phenomenon and its negative impacts to mental health and career progression, there is little on the experience among nurses and none among nursing leaders or how to manage it effectively.

Fellows of the American Academy of Nurses are considered nursing’s most accomplished leaders in education, management, practice, and research. These successful leaders have been recognized for their extraordinary contributions to nursing and health care. This qualitative study used a phenomenological method designed to gain insight into how these successful leaders have experienced impostor feelings. Ten nurse leaders were interviewed about their career progression, and their experiences with the impostor phenomenon were revealed. Findings were analyzed and the six essential themes that were illuminated from those shared experiences were: (a) Welcoming Opportunities, (b) Extended Sphere of Support, (c) Willingness to be Courageous, (d) Embracing the Journey, (e) Willingly Expressing Humility and Authenticity, and (f) Navigating the Impostor Process. The findings from this study will contribute to the body of knowledge about the impostor phenomenon within the context of the nursing profession and leadership and may benefit other nursing professionals experiencing similar feelings to mitigate them.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Frederickson, Keville
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
July 15, 2021