Wednesday, 16 September 2009


Well first of all, my PhD is about how to design services for people with learning disability (or intellectual disability). So besides managers and social care staff I deal with clinicians. My boyfriend happens to be a med student and every time we talk about my work we end up arguing. I tell him about some interesting ideas I read and he usually dismisses them as not being applicable to medicine - for various reasons.

Today I stumbled across an article outlining that the education medical students receive makes them very good at "single loop" problem solving, where the cause the doctor initially identified is not scrutinized but instead the treatment is changed over an over again to find something that works. The better approach would be "double-loop" learning where the own assumptions and behaviour are challenged and analyzed. Apparently it's the system which rewards people who efficiently fix things which breeds such a prevalence of "single loop" problem solving.

So is that the problem? Are doctors just conditioned to be stubborn and not willing to question previously made judgements out of fear for their authority? What does this mean for my research? Or are not all doctors this way and I am just badly stereotyping?

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