Blind spots in medical education: how can we envision new possibilities?

Cynthia R. Whitehead
Darcy A. Reed
Scott M. Wright
Sean Tackett
Yvonne Steinert
Soort article
Eye Opener
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As human beings, we all have blind spots. Most obvious are our visual blind spots, such as where the optic nerve meets the retina and our inability to see behind us. It can be more difficult to acknowledge our other types of blind spots, like unexamined beliefs, assumptions, or biases. While each individual has blind spots, groups can share blind spots that limit change and innovation or even systematically disadvantage certain other groups. In this article, we provide a definition of blind spots in medical education, and offer examples, including unfamiliarity with the evidence and theory informing medical education, lack of evidence supporting well-accepted and influential practices, significant absences in our scholarly literature, and the failure to engage patients in curriculum development and reform. We argue that actively helping each other see blind spots may allow us to avoid pitfalls and take advantage of new opportunities for advancing medical education scholarship and practice. When we expand our collective field of vision, we can also envision more “adjacent possibilities,” future states near enough to be considered but not so distant as to be unimaginable. For medical education to attend to its blind spots, there needs to be increased participation among all stakeholders and a commitment to acknowledging blind spots even when that may cause discomfort. Ultimately, the better we can see blind spots and imagine new possibilities, the more we will be able to adapt, innovate, and reform medical education to prepare and sustain a physician workforce that serves society’s needs.


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