Mar 15, 2010

Shame-based medical education: Is there a better way?

While working on a literature review on medicine and power, I came across this unfortunate quote. I really, really hope that this is not the general opinion of physicians, but I am curious what others think...

"I think that our working relationships [Between ICU doctors and nurses - ETA] are very forward—we are all part of the team—if the doctor isn’t there it fails, and if the nurse isn’t there, it fails.
. . . I think we (doctors) lead the team by involvement and motivation.

We promote, motivate, demonstrate respect, call each other by first names. I think that some of the nurses may feel that there is a hierarchy, but I think that it’s their problem. They’re shit scared of medicine, but that’s their problem.

The junior staff (junior doctors) have a rough ride if they don’t know the patient. They are trained by embarrassment [BBM -ed]. Nursing is different, it’s high on molly coddling. Nurses appreciate handholding."

-- Anonymous ICU Physician

Coombs, M. (2003) Power and conflict in intensive care clinical decision making. Intensive and Critical Care Nursing 19, 125–135


  1. OMDG - Do you think that medical school teaches by embarrassment? TV shows seem to portray it that way, but I wonder if that is a common experience.

    As I am neither a doctor nor a nurse, this is very interesting to me, but totally foreign territory.

  2. That wasn't my experience, but I was usually pretty well prepared. :-)

    Also, they've really tried to do away with that stereotype at my med school, so maybe I was just fortunate.

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  4. I hope you post your lit review or the title so I can search for it and read it. It sounds very interesting.