Ambiguity tolerance of students matriculating to U.S. medical schools.
PURPOSE: To examine the psychometric adequacy of a tolerance for ambiguity (TFA) scale for use with medical students. Also, to examine the relationship of TFA to a variety of demographic and personal variables in a national sample of entering U.S. medical students. METHOD: The authors used data from the 2013 Association of American Medical Colleges Matriculating Student Questionnaire in which questions on TFA were included for the first time that year. Data from 13,867 entering medical students were analyzed to examine the psychometric properties of the TFA scale. In addition, the relationships of TFA to sex, age, perceived stress, and desire to work in an underserved area were analyzed. Finally, the relationship of TFA to specialty preference was examined. RESULTS: The TFA scale was found to be psychometrically adequate for use in a medical student population. TFA was found to be higher in men and in older students. Lower TFA was associated with higher perceived stress levels. Students with higher TFA were more likely to express desire to work in an underserved area. Different levels of TFA may be associated with certain specialty preferences. CONCLUSIONS: These findings support the assessment of TFA to understand how this personal characteristic may interact with the medical school experience and with specialty choice. Longitudinal work in this area will be critical to increase this understanding.
Caulfield, M; Andolsek, K; Grbic, D; Roskovensky, L
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