Lack, Trajectories and Ruptures in Medical Education Research
In a roundup of ‘what the educators are saying’ in the British Medical Journal, Lough (2006, p. 1450) commented on a ‘rare editorial on medical education’ in the Lancet (Davis and Ponnamperuma 2006), also referred to in Chap. 1. The editorial, by Davis and Ponnamperuma, suggests that medical education research is ‘at a crossroads’ as it ‘struggles for recognition.’ In summarizing this ‘shaky position,’ Lough points to a need to overhaul such research in a dog-eat-dog culture of ‘chronic underfunding.’ Individual studies, he argues, need to be abandoned for multi-center collaborations to establish a critical mass. Best evidence education needs to be promoted by medical schools otherwise the research outcomes simply fall into a practice vacuum, with no benefit for patients. Finally, there is a chronic need for education programs for researchers to improve their skills and understanding in the field. Importantly, it is through collaboration, rather than multiplying up competition for resources, that research may progress. We see an important implication of this trajectory for medical education research—paradoxically, in a field that is increasingly competitive, the funded research process can act as a democratizing force for medical education because it can promote collaboration.