Student Life


Battling Imposter Syndrome

Written by Yu Liang

Imposter syndrome. Signs and symptoms include a lack of self-confidence, feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and irrational fears of incompetency. I thought I was the only one, but it turns out many of us can relate to this. If you ever feel like you don’t know anything - like you’ve only made it through this far because of pure luck - I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. Nursing school is hard; getting in is hard and staying in is hard. The fact that you’ve made it as far as you have is a testament to your hard work and dedication to a selfless career. As someone who feels like a fraud all the time, here are some tips I have for mitigating imposter syndrome 

  1. Reframe your thinking. Instead of going into an exam thinking “I’m going to fail”, tell yourself, “I’ve studied as much as I can for this exam. I know the content. I’m doing the best that I can”. Negativity does not help anyone, and it’s really important that you give yourself credit for your successes and the work that you’ve put in.
  2. Stop comparing yourself to other people. Everyone is on their own timeline and comparing yourself to someone else’s won’t do anything but make you feel inferior. For me, I felt imposter syndrome the most when I saw other classmates doing better than I was, who were already working at hospitals and still managing to get good grades. As soon as I stopped worrying about what everyone else was doing and focused on myself, it made me realize my own potential.
  3. Abandon the need for perfection. Learn to appreciate your mistakes and the growth opportunities they offer. One of the reasons why my feelings of inadequacy began to take over was because I was so used to having a 4.0 GPA. That whenever I got anything less than an A, I felt like I was a fraud. Perfect grades do not equal being a good nurse, and this is something I need to remind myself of all the time.  
  4. Recognize your accomplishments.  This is something that is so simple, yet often neglected. We’re so caught up in thinking about what we haven’t done, and what others are thinking about us, that we’ve forgotten to appreciate the work we have done. For example, passing a tough course like Pharmacology is something we don’t consider to be an accomplishment, but ask a non-medical relative if they can pronounce Carbamazepine. It really is the little things.  
  5. Talk about it. Tell someone else how you’re feeling. You’d be surprised how common it is. I felt like I was the only one feeling like a fraud, but once I voiced this to my peers, I found out that my friends were feeling the exact same way. I once told a nurse in clinical that I felt like I didn’t know anything and didn’t think I should be alone on the floor. She talked me through my fears and asked about what I was concerned about specifically. She told me that she felt the same way throughout nursing school and continues to doubt herself sometimes as a nurse. Knowing that I’m not alone in this battle made me feel so much better about it.  

Imposter syndrome is not necessarily a bad thing to have. It keeps me grounded and motivated to learn more. It’s a reminder that there is always room for improvement, a core element in nursing. The key to battling imposter syndrome is not letting it keep you from being a better nurse/nursing student. Don’t let your own mind limit you from applying to opportunities you think you’re not qualified enough for and remind yourself that you are not alone in the way that you feel.  


Yu Liang

Future Nurse | Elsevier Student Ambassador