Evaluation of mindfulness practice in mitigating impostor feelings in dental students

J Dent Educ. 2022 Nov;86(11):1513-1520. doi: 10.1002/jdd.12965. Epub 2022 Jun 6.


Objectives: This study examined (i) the prevalence of impostor feelings in first-year dental students, (ii) student perceptions of a mindfulness practice as a tool to cope with impostor feelings, and (iii) students' ability to identify their level of impostor feelings.

Methods: Two hundred three D1 students at a single institution participated in a mandatory Mind-Body Wellness Course that included the presentation "Understanding Imposter Phenomenon" (lecture #1) and a second presentation "Impostor Phenomenon and Mindfulness: Tools for Success" (lecture #2) 6 months later. Before lecture #2, all students predicted the level to which they suffer from imposter feelings and then took the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale (CIPS) to determine the actual level. After lecture #2, 155 of the students completed a survey on whether the mindfulness practices in the lecture impact their perceptions on coping with impostor feelings.

Results: Fifty-two percent of students were classified as frequent or intense impostors by the CIPS. Fifty-one percent predicted their CIPS classification correctly; 43% underestimated their impostor classification. After lecture #2, 86% reported feeling confident they could recognize their impostor feelings, and 93% reported feeling more aware of how impostor feelings influence their thoughts, behaviors, and actions. Eighty-six percent reported feeling the mindfulness exercise was a helpful tool to build habits to cope with impostor feelings; 83% reported feeling confident they could utilize mindfulness practices to mitigate these feelings when they arise.

Conclusions: Frequent or intense impostor feelings may be common in first-year dental students. Mindfulness practice has potential to mitigate such impostor feelings.

Keywords: communication and interpersonal skills; dental students; education; impostor phenomenon; mindfulness; psychosocial.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Humans
  • Mindfulness*
  • Self Concept
  • Students, Dental

Supplementary concepts

  • imposter syndrome