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This is the final published version from the Journal of Medical Education and Curriculum Development, 2022 May 16;9:23821205221077063

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Managing the uncertainty of clinical practice represents a significant source of stress for clinicians, including medical students transitioning into the clinical workplace. Self-compassion, a strategy to better cope with stress and burnout, may represent a skill that can be leveraged to better prepare learners for the uncertainty inherent in clinical practice. A negative correlation between intolerance of uncertainty and self-compassion has been demonstrated in undergraduate students and in the general population. An examination of this relationship in medical students may help inform future curricular development for addressing burnout in undergraduate medical education. We electronically administered the Intolerance of Uncertainty Short Scale and the Self-Compassion Short Form to 273 third-year medical students from a single institution and analyzed data via regression. A significant negative correlation was found between intolerance of uncertainty and self-compassion (p < 0.0001). Students with higher levels of self-compassion showed lower levels of intolerance of uncertainty. This is consistent with findings in other populations. Our findings offer a starting point for designing training experiences that strengthen student self-compassion to enhance their ability to reconcile the uncertainty they will encounter in clinical practice.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.