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Med Teach. 2019 Mar 26:1-7. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2019.1579308. [Epub ahead of print]

Twelve tips for thriving in the face of clinical uncertainty.

Author information

a Harvard Medical School , Boston , MA , USA.
b Department of Medicine , Mount Auburn Hospital , Cambridge , MA , USA.
c Department of Medicine , Massachusetts General Hospital , Boston , MA , USA.
d Department of Pharmacology , University of Oxford , Oxford , UK.



Effectively managing clinical uncertainty is increasingly recognized as a goal of medical education. Stress from uncertainty has been associated with depression and burnout in trainees and may also impact patient care. Despite its importance, however, strategies to embrace uncertainty in clinical practice are lacking.


The literature on uncertainty in medicine was reviewed. Incorporating insights from faculty and students, 12 tips for healthcare educators to help themselves and others thrive in the face of clinical uncertainty were developed.


Educators will find the tips practical and easy to implement in their day-to-day interactions as clinicians and teachers. Tips are divided into tips for oneself; for implementing with students and trainees; and for implementing with patients and in healthcare systems.


These tips can enhance healthcare professionals' and students' ability to thrive in the face of uncertainty. Strategies to embrace uncertainty are critical for ourselves, our trainees, our patients, and our healthcare systems.

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