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“You can get past the dead end. You can break through the ceiling. I did and so have countless others.”

Imposter Syndrome and the Nurse Practitioner

Young women having coffee break in modern office.

Fear is something that keeps us from doing great things. It’s what prevents many nurse practitioners from leaving an employer and starting their own profitable business or simply just investing money outside of their safe “401k.” But one of the most unique forms of fear that I often come across while consulting is the self-perception that they’re a fraud. That they don’t deserve to be successful. That for some reason, they cheated their way or “faked” their success.

This is a phenomenon known as IMPOSTER SYNDROME. It describes a scenario where somehow, despite having incredible capabilities and several achievements, they doubt themselves. In a way, they feel they’ve almost “fooled” other people into believing that they can do more than they can do. This leaves them feeling unable of taking the next step or even undeserving to be a success. It often leads to analysis paralysis and overload paralysis as well. You are constantly thinking about “whats next” to maintain being this “imposter.”

In the nurse practitioner niche, imposter syndrome can be particularly prevalent. Despite years of education and obtaining degrees like an MSN or even DNP, there are those in this profession (both patients and colleagues) who will try to make you feel like you’re not qualified to do what you’re trained to do. I see this over on the Facebook group and through emails with nurse practitioners all the time. Hell, I have experienced it myself from some asshole physicians. But smart as we are, we’re still human, and those insecurities can leak into our subconscious only to hold us back from where we need to go. I remember the fear of obtaining a collaborating physician in my old home restricted state held me back from staying there and starting my practice. Instead, I moved across the country to an independent state… and the underlying reason? That insecurity… that “imposter” syndrome.

The thing to recognize is that imposter syndrome is COMMON, especially among high-achieving people. As a matter of fact, 84 percent of entrepreneurs have reported feelings of impostor syndrome. Ironically, despite overcoming so many obstacles and accomplishing more than their peers, they still don’t see themselves in the way that others might see them.

I felt like an imposter for YEARS throughout my entrepreneurial journey… Within a week of starting my medical cannabis clinic I felt like an imposter. I was thinking “Why should I be doing this? What do I know?”

And again with my men’s health clinic. The thoughts of “I shouldn’t be doing this.” or “Why should people come see me for this?” crept into my mind often. It even got worse once I became successful… I remember my first $20,000 month… I almost felt like I was stealing. Yes, STEALING. I didn’t deserve this… I was just a good old boy from the southeast. How could “I” own a successful men’s health clinic?

The imposter syndrome even worsened after I started The Elite Nurse Practitioner… Who was “I” to consult with my nurse practitioner sisters and brothers on how to start a practice? Who was “I” to develop courses on how to do it? I felt like a fake… I felt like a fraud… I felt like an imposter… I didn’t have a fancy MBA or business degree from Harvard… I don’t even have a business degree… But I realized I have something more important than that: EXPERIENCE and a desire to teach others.

We can blame the primitive parts of our brains for holding us back and for developing imposter syndrome. In caveman days, avoiding the unknown was how you survived. I realized this after reading up on fear and realized times are different now. Why should we feel this way?

So how can you stop feeling this way?

It is simple:

Be the person you’re meant to be. Stop letting yourself or others tell you that you’re not cut out to start your own business.




Realize that you are capable of doing ANYTHING you want to do.

Realize that EVERY SINGLE ENTREPRENEUR ON THIS PLANET has experienced these feelings… All of them had to start their “first” business. The successful ones also had to experience that feeling of “success” even though they “felt” like they might not have deserved it.

I found a great way to get over imposter syndrome is to talk about it. Try sharing your plans and emotions with others. Just the act of talking about it out loud can do wonders for your confidence and make you feel like less of a fraud. We have these conversations all the time over on the Elite NP Facebook group.

On top of that, you might be surprised by the positive reactions and encouragement that you’ll receive from those around you (especially from other nurse practitioner entrepreneurs). Half of being successful is having the right support system in place. It may even lead to exchanging ideas and tips with others that will open doors and give you access to resources you didn’t even know existed.

It all starts by taking action, just like anything in business. As I have said before: action leads to more action. The first action you can take is to overcome your fear of being an imposter and start seeing yourself as the success that you can become. Remember, living in a state of fear and self-doubt serves NO POSITIVE purpose in your life. Realize that fear is an ancient emotion and not applicable in MOST scenarios in our modern life. Once you overcome the fear and the self-doubt, then you will overcome feeling like an imposter… I don’t feel like an imposter anymore. It doesn’t matter what business or venture I start at this point because I realize everyone starts from “new” and that is the nature of being an entrepreneur.

If you can come to this realization, you will become the true nurse practitioner entrepreneur you can be… one without restraints!

14 Responses

  1. Thanks for this today. I’m set to start my male hrt/ hormone optimization clinic soon. I’ve worked for others doing this for a couple years and even before that this was my passion. I still feel a bit of the imposter syndrome. I’m learning to ignore it and just go! These clients are waiting for me to start for a reason….

  2. Thank you for this!! It’s exactly what I needed to read this morning. Since scaling my business to $50k monthly, my thoughts have greatly resembled these. “Do I deserve this?? Will I lose it?? Can I sustain?” But this little reminder shows me that yes, I am deserving of everything I have worked for and yes, I will continue to run a successful business! Thank you for this! And thank you for the information in your courses that have helped me to better serve my clients.

  3. Omg this is it. I’ve been struggling for months and finally read something that describes most everything I’m feeling. Although I’m just an RN, I feel this is very relevant to so many. Thank you for sharing!

  4. This is exactly what I needed to read at this very moment. I have always struggled with imposter syndrome. Your experience is so helpful to newbies like me

  5. Wow….wow…wow….just what I needed today. ALL of those thoughts have gone through my head! And that fear is always swirling a bit on the back of my mind and rears its ugly head when something doesn’t go well or I’m criticized (ie: like from a recent google review…argh…). I can’t believe how that ugly, loud voice comes crashing back into my head!!
    This post was very timely…I am grateful for you Justin and the work you are doing and the community you are creating! This is so so needed!

    1. You are welcome. Just truck through the fears and tell that ugly voice to go to hell. Seriously, just move forward.

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