Issue: Medical education has “muddy zones of practice,” areas of complexity and uncertainty that frustrate the achievement of our intended educational outcomes. Slowing down to consider context and reflect on practice are now seen as essential to medical education as we are called upon to examine carefully what we are doing to care for learners and improve their performance, professionalism, and well-being. Philosophy can be seen as the fundamental approach to pausing at times of complexity and uncertainty to ask basic questions about seemingly obvious practices so that we can see (and do) things in new ways. Evidence: Philosophy and medical education have long been related; many of our basic concepts can be traced to philosophical ideas. Philosophy is a problem-creation approach, and its method is analysis; it is a constant process of shifting frames and turning into objects of analysis the lenses through which we see the world. However, philosophy is not about constant questioning for the sake of questioning. Progression in medical education practice involves recognizing when to switch from a philosophical to a practical perspective, and when to switch back. Implications: In medical education, a philosophical approach empowers us to “slow down when we should,” thereby engaging us more directly with our subjects of study, revealing our assumptions, and helping us address vexing problems from a new angle. Doing philosophy involves thinking like a beginner, getting back to basics, and disrupting frames of reference. Being philosophical is about wonder and intense, childlike curiosity, human qualities we all share. Taking a philosophical approach to medical education need not be an unguided endeavor, but can be a dialog through which medical educators and philosophers learn together.

humanities, interdisciplinary, Philosophy,
Teaching and Learning in Medicine: an international journal
Department of General Practice

Veen, M, & Cianciolo, A.T. (Anna T.). (2020). Problems No One Looked For: Philosophical Expeditions into Medical Education. Teaching and Learning in Medicine: an international journal. doi:10.1080/10401334.2020.1748634