A Longitudinal Assessment of Professional Identity, Wellness, Imposter Phenomenon, and Calling to Medicine Among Medical Students

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Objective: This study assessed changes in professional identity, wellness, imposter phenomenon, and calling to medicine over time in medical school. Methods: Medical students from the first through third years anonymously completed four validated measures: Perceived Wellness Survey (PWS), Brief Calling Scale (BCS), Physician In-group Identification Scale (PID), and Clance’s Imposter Phenomenon Scale (CIP). Survey completion implied informed consent. The study was exempted by the university IRB. Results: All class of 2018 students (n = 110) returned surveys at the beginning of year 1; 58 completed surveys at the end of the preclinical years (post year 2, n = 44) and/or end of the third-year clerkship (post year 3, n = 35) and were analyzed. From pre to post preclinical years, there was a significant decrease in the PID. There were no statistically significant changes in the PWS, BCS, and CIP. From pre year 1 to post third-year clerkships, the PWS and PID decreased, the CIP increased, and the BCS did not change. Only 19% of students participated in all three survey administrations and this group was excluded from the analysis due to the low response rate. Conclusion: Student wellness and sense of professional identity (in-group identity) dropped over 3 years of medical education, while imposter phenomenon increased. The BCS did not change over time. The decrease in identity as part of the physician community is concerning; future curriculum initiatives should focus on integration of professional identity into students’ individual identities and on initiatives to improve student well-being.



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