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The future for medical education: speculation and possible implications Richard Smith Editor, BMJ

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Presentation on theme: "The future for medical education: speculation and possible implications Richard Smith Editor, BMJ"— Presentation transcript:

1 The future for medical education: speculation and possible implications Richard Smith Editor, BMJ

2 What I want to talk about Dangers of looking to the future How to look to the future Possible futures for health care The old world and the new world Reinventing medical education

3 Dangers of predicting the future Sam Goldwyn Mayer I never make predictions, especially about the future.


5 Predictions of Lord Kelvin, president of the Royal Society, 1890-95 Radio has not future X-rays will prove to be a hoax Heavier than air flying machines are impossible

6 What was predicted The leisure society The paperless office The death of the novel

7 What wasnt predicted The end of communism The rapid spread of the internet September 11

8 Looking to the future: common mistakes Making predictions rather than attaching probabilities to possibilities Simply extrapolating current trends Thinking of only one future

9 Looking to the future: common mistakes People consistently overestimate the effect of short term change and underestimate the effect of long term change. Ian Morrison, former president of the Institute for the Future

10 Why bother with the future? "If you think that you can run an organisation in the next 10 years as you've run it in the past 10 years you're out of your mind." CEO, Coca Cola

11 Why bother with the future? The future belongs to the unreasonable ones, the ones who look forward not backward, who are certain only of uncertainty, and who have the ability and the confidence to think completely differently. Charles Handy quoting Bernard Shaw

12 Why bother with the future? The point is not to predict the future but to prepare for it and to shape it

13 How best to think about the future? No answer to the question, but one way Think of the drivers of change Use the drivers to imagine different scenarios of the future Imagine perhaps three; each should be plausible but different Extrapolate back from those future scenarios to think about what to do now to prepare

14 Drivers of change in health care Internet Beginning of the information age Globalisation Cost containment Big ugly buyers Ageing of society Managerialism Increasing public accountability

15 Drivers of change in health care Rise of sophisticated consumers 24/7 society Science and technology -- particularly molecular biology and IT Ethical issues to the fore Changing boundaries between health and health care Environment

16 Examples of future scenarios for information and health

17 Three possible futures: titanium Information technology develops fast in a global market Governments have minimal control People have a huge choice of technologies and information sources People are suspicious of government sponsored services There are many truths

18 Three possible futures: iron A top down, regulated world People are overwhelmed by information so turn to trusted institutions--like the NHS Experts are important Information is standardised Public interest is more important than privacy

19 Three possible futures: wood People react against technology as against genetically modified foods Legislation restricts technological innovation Privacy is highly valued Internet access is a community not an individual resource There are no mobile phones

20 Pictures of the future of health care


22 Fee for service for the rich Marks and Spencer style managed care for the middle classes Safety net service for the poor

23 The old world (that we were trained for) and the new world

24 Old world: Doctors practice primarily as individuals New world: Doctors work predominantly in teams

25 Old world: The doctor is on top within his institution New world: The doctor is part of a complex organisation

26 Old world: Doctors work long hours, put their patients before family, and have considerable freedom New world: Doctors want a life, put their families first, and are highly accountable

27 Old world: Source of knowledge is expert opinion New world: Source of knowledge is systematic review of evidence

28 Old world: Clinical skills are seen as semi-mystical New world: Clinical skills can be audited and managed

29 Old world: Most of what doctors need to know is in their heads New world: Doctors must use information tools constantly

30 Old world: Only lip service is paid to keeping up to date and learning new skills New world: Essential to keep learning new skills

31 Old world: Most medical care is assumed to be beneficial New world: Widespread recognition that the balance between doing good and harm is fine

32 Old world: Doctor patient relationship is essentially master/pupil New world: Patient partnership is the norm

33 Old world: Patients do not have easy access to the knowledge base of doctors New world: Patients have as much access to the evidence base of medicine as doctors

34 Old world: The doctor is smartest New world: Often the patient is smarter

35 Reinventing medical education: the Witten experience (courtesy of Christan Koeck)

36 The old model Trainee doctors study the natural sciences They apply the natural sciences to solve peoples medical problems

37 Problems with the old model Doctors arent scientists (How many of you are scientists?) People are not machines: they are complex adaptive systems So are the families of the patients and their social groups So is the system within which doctors work

38 What is a complex adaptive system? A system--unlike a mechanical system--in which any given input will produce unpredictable consequences, which may be far reaching Anything to do with humans is usually a complex adaptive system

39 Skills needed by doctors Technical skills--mainly taught in medical skills Adaptive skills--tools and mindset needed to facilitate adaptive processes in systems-- mostly not taught

40 Problems faced by doctors Problem and solution clear--for example, an uncomplicated fracture Problem clear but solution unclear-- for example, diabetes Problem and solution unclear (very common in medicine) (Vote on which are the most common)

41 Julian Tudor Hart My medical education began three times. What I learnt at medical school was no use in the hospital. What I learnt in the hospital was no use in general practice. Julian Tudor Hart (paraphrased)

42 Result Doctors are trying to solve unclear problems with unclear solutions with technical skills Often/usually they fail Leads to paternalism, grandiosity, pseudoempathy, inappropriate treatment And burnout in doctors and organisational problems in hospitals

43 Question Would you prefer that a medical student knew all about clinical governance or hypertension in pregnancy?

44 Finally What are the three most important words in medical education?

45 I dont know

46 Final thought If you arent confused you dont know whats going on. Jack Welch, former CEO General Electric

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