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Choppy waters: how educators can support their learners to navigate healthcare uncertainty

April 24th 2024 at 13:00 - 13:45

Uncertainty is inherent within the practice of medicine and patient care, for a wide range of health professionals. Existing research suggests that positive approaches to uncertainty are associated with improved outcomes for professionals and their patients. Many professional competency frameworks now demand that health professions graduates have a capacity to manage uncertain and complex clinical situations. However, there is little clear guidance on how we, as educators, can best support our learners to engage with uncertainty to develop these constructive approaches.

In this session, three researchers in the field of health professions uncertainty will highlight key issues for educators, and discuss the approaches taken to develop tools to evaluate uncertainty tolerance in medical and veterinary student populations, as well as the lessons learned from cross-professional work with these populations.
The researchers will reflect on their journey over the last decade including research exploring the potential associations between uncertainty tolerance and psychological wellbeing of clinicians, and the approaches taken to support improved uncertainty tolerance in students and early career health professionals. This will be followed by a facilitated discussion to consider how educators can best support their students to engage with, and develop more positive approaches to, uncertainty in clinical practice.

Watch the session video now:

Panel Members

Jenny Moffett 1

Jenny Moffett

Jenny Moffett is an educationalist based at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences Health Professions’ Education Centre. As part of this role, Jenny facilitates RCSI faculty development through workshops, online learning and consultancies. Jenny is the Programme Director for the university’s Postgraduate Diploma in Health Professions Education. She is currently finishing a PhD with Utrecht University, exploring how health professions students can be supported to build uncertainty management strategies.


Jason Hancock 1

Jason Hancock
Jason is a consultant liaison psychiatrist and director of medical education with Devon Partnership NHS Trust, and an honorary clinical associate professor in medical education at the University of Exeter. His research interests include doctor wellbeing and supporting doctors to develop more positive responses to clinical uncertainty.



Jenny Hammond Headshot 1

Jennifer Hammond 


Jenny is Professor of Veterinary Education and Deputy Head of the School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine at the University Glasgow.  Jenny’s background is as a clinical teacher in small animal general practice at the University of Glasgow.  Having developed an interest in veterinary education, assessment and curriculum design she was part of the schools working group designing and implementing the new BVMS Curriculum and has completed a Professional Doctorate in Veterinary Education.  Jenny now leads the Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (BVMS) Programme and continues to develop her interest in educational research and scholarship relating to workplace learning, education for uncertainty, professional skills development and assessment.



Session Chair
Megan Brown

Megan Brown

Megan is a Senior Research Associate in Medical Education, within the School of Medicine at Newcastle University. Alongside her role as the Director of Social Media and Communications at ASME, she holds other national appointments including as Communications Workstream Co-lead for the Incubator for Clinical Education Research, and as vice-chair of the MedEd Collaborative. She has eleven years’ experience in social media management in the private sector.

Megan has a background in clinical medicine but has transitioned full-time to academia. Her research interests are varied and include workforce issues within the health and social care services, identity development, qualitative research methods, and the arts and humanities (particularly poetry and philosophy). She is multiply disabled, and brings this perspective and insight to her work, particularly research exploring the experiences of those who are underrepresented in medicine.


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