Research and Learning Services Librarian University of Tennessee Health Science Center Memphis, Tennessee
Objective: To capture the essence of the experiences of mid-career academic health science librarians and their experiences with impostor phenomenon (IP) through phenomenological inquiry.
Methods: Through a call for participation via listserv, 24 participants were acquired for semi-structured interviews. Inclusion criteria was limited to academic health science librarians with five or more years of experience. Interviews were recorded via Zoom and transcribed through Temi, an online transcription platform. Finally, NVivo was used to thematically analyze the qualitative data.
Results: Though twelve primary themes were of initial interest, the phenomenological essence of IP was a lack of comfort and confidence in a medical, STEM-forward environment. This primary theme was supported by non-STEM undergraduate degrees, feelings of "accidentally" becoming a health science librarian, and thoughts of inferiority when interfacing with medical professionals.
Conclusions: IP may not dissipate completely over time. Acknowledging that everyone feels some level of fraudulence at some point in their professional lives may allow for more honest conversations and opportunities. Given the travel restrictions of COVID-19, online STEM trainings may be of benefit to the profession. Additionally, mentorship was a noted theme as a key solution for moving past feelings of IP.