Why are doctors so awful? I blame their education. (hypothosis)

Any forum for ME FMS Dysautonomia POTs - will show you stories by the truck load of patients given shoddy, rude and useless treatment by doctors. But it's not just us. My friend who finally got her all-clear from breast cancer also received some atrocious treatment from oncologists along the way. It's not just us chronics who suffer at their hands.

Hipocrates must be spinning in his grave.

I have an hypothosis all of my little own.
I have read a lot of educational stuff and listened to a ton more. I am a great fan of modern folk like Sir Ken Robinson; that is, I agree with a lot of what he says.

I am fairly old.- 48. I am the last of the Brit kids who got through school before the National Curriculum was forced down everyone's necks and paralysed all thinking. (Thanks Maggie).

Other people I agree with are John Taylor Gatto and with some reservations John Holt

Going further back in time I love the comments on education by Albert Einstein, G.K. Chesterton and Oscar Wilde.
But two woman in particular stand out as excellent educators who both knew how children lived and learned and had a deep respect for them. Charlotte Mason and Dr. Maria Montessori

Mason and Montessori were offering an excellent, carefully crafted and child-respecting approach to education. I've used Charlotte Mason successfully with my children and am just changing over to Montessori for my youngest. These methods are well set out and really do work. But they were not universally adopted. Worse still

From my reading/research I have seen that educationalists were already concerned about the appalling standard of schools within ten years of compulsory education laws being passed. By the turn of the 20th century concerns had grown massively.
But nothing was changed.

So now we have an education system that is so broken many kids leave school illiterate.
But what about medics?
They are the bright ones aren't they? Top streamed and passed all those exams. Surely they should be good?

But look at it this way.
Most of them will have been institutionalised from a very early age. It's well known that insitutionalised people can't think independantly. They go from nursery - do this, think that; to school - do this, read that- think this. Then sit exams having learned only HOW to sit the exams.
They go to Uni from school and are told how to think there too.

When my oldest dd was signing up with the Open University when she was 16 I had a conversation with the young applicants helping woman. She told me home educated children did far better on OU courses because "they know how to think and work independantly."

It doesn't matter if you get A*s all across the board if you are only getting A*s in what you've been told to think and remember. That doesn't make you intellegent. It doesn't make you able to take in information and process it properly. It doesn't help you listen carefully and write an accurate history. It doesn't teach you the inherent dignity of the human person.
There is so very much the national curriculum doesn't teach.

When I taught medical students Sign Language they were definately quicker, brighter and more capable with the language than my other university student groups. But they lacked manners, good sense and were often horribly arrogant. All their lives people had told them how clever they were and by all the pompous gods of Rome, they believed they were better than anyone else.
I might also add that I taught Sign Language in what (back then) was supposed to be one of the top Unis under the Russell group. Even so, all first year students were obliged to take a course in how to write an essay. Seriously!

To be a good doctor a person needs to have learned a great deal more than how to pass exams and how clever s/he is.

Now, this is just my hypthothesis. But I think when an education system teaches children what to think and how to answer exam questions, rather than how to think and how to listen and discern, that you will never get doctors who know how to do medicine or care for patients. The system is compounded in the institutional setting of something like the NHS that has tick boxes to complete, but no independant or original thinking space.
The short time doctors give to patients -hence the complete inability to take a proper history - is a continuation of the conveyer belt education system they have lived in since they were toddlers.

What else can we hope for?
Likes: merylg


Doctors also receive intensive training in how to think ... using standard techniques. Their thought patterns are constrained by training. This doesn't apply to all, especially not those with broad classical training or cross trained in other disciplines.

Dogmatic smart people are very smart about being dogmatic. Until they open the box their intelligence will just reinforce it. Sadly that applies to everyone, even to us. Questioning is the key to thinking out of the box, and doctors are typically constrained by training to question only in very specific ways. See rule 24:

I saw a shift toward thinking WHAT rather than WHY or HOW back in 1992 to 1995 when I was tutoring and lecturing. Many others have commented on this.

When I was marking papers I often saw bizarre comments and reasoning. This was from very smart people, I am not knocking their intelligence. The education system has to be judged by the eventual outcome. Thats the global measure of success - reading, (w)riting, (a)rithmatic and reasoning. Its not easy to learn to reason, but thats no cause to fail to try.

When I tutored people to understand and reason for themselves, they were typically very succesfull. The people who resisted this, and there were many, were not so successful.

In my computer course, when I was a student, 99% needed remedial math training - though we are talking advanced math not basic stuff. Doesn't that say it all? In my case I almost passed, but I had only just recently relearned all my math for the second time (I keep forgetting it) and some of the more esoteric aspects of math I missed relearning. That explanation doesn't apply to most of those just out of school.
Here in AUtralia they have now altered the way they recruit medical students to combat a perceived lack of empathy in some docs. They now encourage people to do a generalist degree first annd then do a shortened medical course and I think they are interviewing students too and looking out for interpersonal skills as well - not just high marks.
Allyson, that's a good move. In my experience the best docs I have ever worked with (don't know about being under as a pt) had all worked as care assistants before going to med school. I don't think anyone should be allowed onto a med degree or nursing degree until they have done that.

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