Normalising uncertainty in undergraduate clinical transition seminars

Kitto, Simon, Chesters, Janice, Villanueva, Elmer, & Fox, Jane (2004) Normalising uncertainty in undergraduate clinical transition seminars. Focus on Health Professional Education, 6(1), pp. 37-51.

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The transition from the pre-clinical to clinical years of undergraduate medical training is a profound experience for medical students, one that is characterised by intense uncertainty and anxiety. The medical education literature tends to focus on dealing with medical uncertainty through teaching effective clinical decision-making skills. The emphasis is placed on developing the instrumental capacities of individual students at the cognitive, technical, conceptual and personal levels. This leads to neglect of the situational and collective social responses that students experience and use when adapting to training within the clinical environmental culture(s).


This paper reports on an evaluation of clinical transition seminars for 4th year Monash MBBS students conducted in July 2003. The seminars were designed and implemented with a dual purpose in mind: to introduce 4th year students to the social aspects of uncertainty in medical training and practice within hospital settings, and to inform the development and implementation of transition seminars for the 3rd year students of the new five-year Monash MBBS curriculum. The key objectives of the teaching and learning activity were to increase the students' understanding of the clinical environment, the complexities inherent in the management of the multiple identities they embody within this context, and the uncertainty that is associated with practising medicine.


Nine two-hour seminars were conducted over a three-day period involving 180 students in groups of 20. Results: The evaluation results demonstrate that the students believed that the seminars contributed positively to their transition to the hospital environment and that learning activities that account for broader aspects of uncertainty in medicine are highly valued.


The results suggest that a greater focus on the social aspects of uncertainty within clinical transition teaching regimes is perceived to be beneficial by medical students.

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ID Code: 21815
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1442-1100
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Health Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Deposited On: 17 Jun 2009 12:58
Last Modified: 22 May 2014 21:52

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