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Measuring Resident Well-Being: Impostorism and Burnout Syndrome in Residency



Assessing resident well-being is becoming increasingly important from a programmatic standpoint. Two measures that have been used to assess this are the Clance Impostor Scale (CIS) and the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS). However, little is known about the relationship between the two phenomena.


To explore the prevalence and association between impostorism and burnout syndrome in a sample of internal medicine residents.


Anonymous, cross-sectional postal survey.


Forty-eight internal medicine residents (postgraduate year [PGY] 1–3) at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry (62.3% response rate).

Measurements and Main Results

Short demographic questionnaire, CIS and MBI-HSS. Impostorism and burnout syndrome were identified in 43.8% and 12.5% of residents, respectively. With the exception of a negative correlation between CIS scores and the MBI’s personal accomplishment subscale (r = .30; 95% CI −.54 to −.02), no other significant relations were identified. Foreign-trained residents were more likely to score as impostors (odds ratio [OR] 10.7; 95% CI 1.2 to 98.2) while senior residents were more likely to experience burnout syndrome (OR 16.5 95% CI 1.6 to 168.5).


Both impostorism and burnout syndrome appear to be threats to resident well-being in our program. The lack of relationship between the two would suggest that programs and researchers wishing to address the issue of resident distress should consider using both measures. The finding that foreign-trained residents appear to be more susceptible to impostorism warrants further study.

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The authors express gratitude to those who participated in this study. We also would like to thank the Department of Medicine’s Education Office for managing the study’s mailings.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest with regards to this study.

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Correspondence to Mark A. Goldszmidt MD, MHPE, FRCPC.

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Legassie, J., Zibrowski, E.M. & Goldszmidt, M.A. Measuring Resident Well-Being: Impostorism and Burnout Syndrome in Residency. J GEN INTERN MED 23, 1090–1094 (2008).

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  • impostorism
  • burnout syndrome
  • burnout
  • resident well-being