Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Insights at 2024 APIC Annual Conference and Exhibition

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At the APIC24 conference, infection preventionists learned to combat imposter syndrome, gaining confidence and resilience through empowering keynotes from Simon T. Bailey and Lisa Sun.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Insights at 2024 APIC Annual Conference and Exhibition

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Insights at 2024 APIC Annual Conference and Exhibition

If I could sum up my experience of the 2024 Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC24) Annual Conference & Exposition in San Antonio, Texas, held from June 3 to 5, in just a few words, it would be “overcome imposter syndrome.”

Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which individuals doubt their abilities, talents, or achievements and persistently fear being exposed as frauds. Despite evidence of their competence, those experiencing imposter syndrome believe they do not deserve their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck, timing, or tricking others into thinking they are more capable than they feel. This syndrome can affect anyone, regardless of their social status, work background, skill level, or level of expertise.

APIC24’s first 2 keynote speakers, who delivered powerful messages of empowerment, were essential to accomplishing this goal of defeating imposter syndrome. On day 1, infection preventionists (IPs) were thrilled to have Simon T. Bailey back on stage to speak to “Oh, brilliant one” on how to thrive in the workplace. He hit home with the statement, “IPs are to be activated, not tolerated.” 

On day 2, we were inspired by a talk from Lisa Sun of Gravitas about choosing confidence to become confident. These messages were exactly what we needed to abolish the negative voice inside us all and become the thriving, confident professionals we were always meant to be.

Simon and Lisa encouraged us to see and value our strengths as our superpowers. Simon’s research has found that employees who are resilient can achieve greater individual fulfillment and organizational success. He taught us to see and harness our brilliance and thrive in excellence. Lisa taught us how to step into confidence and identify our unique language of confidence. Together, we identified unhealthy mindsets that feed our imposter syndrome and keep us from becoming the confident individuals we can be. Together, we took a journey over 2 days in that room. We were taught to leverage our resilience and confidence and step into our brilliance. We all identified the mindsets that held us back and were encouraged to hold tight to mindsets that will lead us to all thrive and take hold of our professional destinies.

I can’t tell you how much of a relief it was to hear my “shame buddy” admit to me that they struggle to believe in themselves or to look around the giant conference hall at all the raised hands of fellow colleagues who suffer from “satisfaction conundrum.” There is something so freeing in realizing we are not alone in the endless struggle with our inner critic.

It may surprise some people who know me and my writing, but I am not always the bright, confident light in the room. I, too, struggle with self-doubt. So, it hit me like a ton of bricks when Simon T. Bailey said, “It is not you who is holding yourself back; it is who you think you’re not.” But can you imagine a world where IPs in our profession were confident, thriving professionals ready to take on the next challenge in infection prevention and control? Can you imagine a world where our imposter syndrome, wholly disappeared? Oh, the new heights we could reach if we could only break out of the bondage of imposter syndrome—if we thought we were resilient, brilliant, and confident all the time.

Thank you, Simon T. Bailey, for reminding me that there’s much more right about me than wrong. As you so poignantly stated, I wasn’t born in the 18th century because I wasn’t needed then! Thank you, Lisa Sun, for reminding me that confidence is a mindset and a choice before it becomes a behavior.

Thank you, APIC, for giving these speakers the stage at the annual conference to teach this group of rockstar IPs how to build confidence, thrive in the workplace, and use their newfound brilliance, resilience, and confidence to crush imposter syndrome.

Let’s thrive!

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