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J Contin Educ Health Prof. 2001 Spring;21(2):117-22.

Tolerance of ambiguity among MD/MBA students: implications for management potential.

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Department of Public Health Sciences, Clemson University, 528 Edwards Hall, Clemson, SC 29634, USA.



Health care is increasingly characterized by uncertainty and turbulence. In an environment of rapid change, flexibility is critical to the success of managers and organizations. Future physician executives must also be open to change and must be able to deal with the uncertainties of management; they must be able to tolerate the ambiguity in management situations.


This study uses tolerance of ambiguity measures to analyze students at six medical schools offering dual-degree (MD/MBA) programs. Students enrolled in dual-degree programs were assessed and compared with a control group of traditional medical students.


MD/MBA students exhibit a higher tolerance of ambiguity than traditional medical students.


As a characteristic associated with leadership ability, tolerance of ambiguity offers a potential indicator of future success as a physician executive. As such, tolerance of ambiguity might be used for selective admissions to medical school and as an indicator of a student's potential to transition between clinical and management functions. As students match personality traits with career choices, those who serve their learning needs must anticipate differences across selected disciplines, roles, and responsibilities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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