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The Imposter Phenomenon: A Study of Self Assessment and Competency to Perform as a Physician Assistant in the Continental United States

1 August 2007


The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence and correlation of three major psychological constructs in practicing Physician Assistants in the continental United States. Through voluntary participant completion of a comprehensive online survey the Imposter Phenomenon (IP), depression, and anxiety were analyzed using the Clance Imposter Phenomenon Scale (CIPS) and the Depression Module and Anxiety Module of the Primary Evaluation of Mental Disorders (PRIME-MD). Demographic questions including age, gender, graduation date, and total number of years in practice were also asked. Hypotheses suggested that the presence of the Imposter Phenomenon would mimic earlier research showing that IP exists in approximately one-third of professionals, regardless of profession. Additionally, it was predicted that IP scores would decrease as the number of years in practice increased. Researchers in this study also did not expect to observe a gender difference in physician assistant (P A) reports of the Imposter Phenomenon. Finally, a fourth hypothesis proposed that, across the sample, identification of both clinically expressed levels of depression and anxiety would be statistically correlated with high IP scores. Results supported the study hypotheses except to find that, in this sample, anxiety was not shown to be significantly associated with the Imposter Phenomenon.


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