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September 15, 2010

Are You Sure This Is Right?Insights Into the Ways Trainees Act, Feel, and Reason

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Dr Golub is Senior Editor, JAMA (robert.golub@jama-archives.org).

JAMA. 2010;304(11):1236-1238. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1296

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.—Groucho Marx

The process of maturation from student to resident to skilled physician is gradual and prolonged, sometimes painful, and always accompanied by times of self-examination. Medical students and residents are frequently challenged (by themselves and others) about whether they are right. Articles in this Medical Education issue of JAMA examine different aspects of this normative question, forming 3 intertwining themes: professionalism (are you acting right?), distress (is how you feel right?), and cognitive processes and decision making (is your reasoning right?). The studies help illuminate often unrecognized, intentionally ignored, or downplayed problems related to behavior, mental health, and cognition and in some cases offer potential solutions. Although the studies focus on trainees, the findings are likely to also be applicable to experienced physicians.