Kelly J Caverzagie, Mitchell G Goldenberg, Jena M Hall
The clinical learning environment for the postgraduate education of physicians significantly influences the learning process and the outcomes of learning. Two critical aspects of the learning environment, when viewed through a psychology lens are (1) constructs from psychology relevant to learning, such as cognitive load theory and learner self-efficacy; and (2) psychological attributes of the context in which learning occurs such as psychological safety and “Just Culture”. In this paper, we address selected psychological aspects of the clinical learning environment, with a particular focus on the establishment and sustainment of psychological safety in the clinical learning environment for physicians. Psychological safety is defined as individuals’ perceptions that they can speak out in the learning or working context without consequences for their professional standing or risks to their status on work teams or groups. We close with seven critical strategies for use by educators, learners, health systems leaders, and other stakeholders to contribute to a clinical environment that optimizes learning. These dimensions can also provide avenues for future research to enhance the community’s understanding of psychological constructs operating in the clinical learning environment.