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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hospitals and Schools

I am sitting beside the hospital bed of my daughter and investing some time in generating this Blog entry while she takes a medication induced nap. I'm supporting her as she undergoes some tests and observations along the road to recovery. Her body reacted unexpectedly to minor surgery and she's been admitted for a week.

Earlier this morning a nurse came in, used a hand held device and scanned her medical identification bracelet. This process authenticated her identity and ensured that she would be matched with the appropriate medications and procedures.

I couldn't help but wonder how soon public schools will equip all learners with similar ID bracelets that will be scanned as they enter the classroom. We are fast approaching such an accounting process in New York as we link every learner with each and every teacher they interact with for the purpose of correlating instructor and assessment data used to by the state to measure the "value added" impact of teachers.

The unusual time available to me on what would otherwise be a hectic and full staff development day allows me to reflect on other studies or articles I've digested that involve medical practices/procedures that could benefit education.

1. When patients are informed, prior to their surgery, of the expected after-effects of the operation, their recovery time is generally 1/3 less than patients who are less aware of the pain, discomfort, and symptoms that often result from surgery. (How much do we share regarding expectations and outcomes and the experiences and sacrifices learners are expected to expend and endure?)
2. In Blink, (page 40) author Malcolm Gladwell (one of my favorite authors) relates studies performed by insurance companies of the dynamic relationship between doctor and patient that reveal that the "bedside manners" exhibited by physicians (eye contact, appropriate and clear communication as opposed to condescending speech patterns, humor, non-verbal cues, empathy and care) largely determine the patient's perception of the quality of care they receive, and, hence, the likelihood of subsequent litigation against the doctor if there are problems. (How is this any different than the relationship between school employees and those we serve - learners and parents?)
3. Research showed that a disproportionate amount of medical mistakes arise from the communication patterns (transference of data and narrative) that occur when nurses transition during shift exchanges. Communication lacking clarity between speaker and listener as one leaves work and another arrives, contributes to misunderstandings that could produce negative consequences for patients. (Think of the many service providers that work with individual learners during the course of a school day or school year and examine the process used to traffic the attendant information between classes and grade levels as the learner progresses through school).

There are many more ideas that could be extracted from medical research that could be adapted and applied toward increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of educational practioners. In fact, many of the most pivotal leverage points and difference makers I've exercised in a lengthy career in educational leadership have emerged from engaging with resources outside of the educational arena.

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