Journal: Medical Education Author: Glenn Regehr Publication Date: Jan 2010 Volume Number: 44 Issue: 1 Page Numbers: 31-39
Description: For those who may be getting interested in complexity in health education, two papers and an editorial in the January 2010 edition of Medical Education are recommended reading.

Firstly Mennin [1] gives us a broad overview of how self organisation and integration, particularly in the curriculum, informs our practice in medical education. Offering complexity as a lens through which to view curriculum and pedagogy, he suggests that it may be time for a paradigm shift in medical education, similar to that initiated by Flexner 100 years ago. In his editorial, Dornan[2] underlines the importance of the relational ontology of complexity by comparing the pragmatist philosopher Richard Sennett’s view of ‘craftsmanship’ to the more reductive competency-based frameworks common in medical education. Quoting from Sennett, he points out that, "good (craftsmanlike) work tends to focus on relationships" [3].

Elsewhere Regehr [4] points out the potential pitfalls of using traditional reductive scientific metaphors for research in medical education, and concludes "we might do better to look to ... chaos theory".

Overall this edition of Medical Education is a good read, and the importance of complexity as a paradigm for viewing both curriculum and pedagogy, as well is medical education research comes through strongly.



1. Mennin, S., Self-organisation, integration and curriculum in the complex world of medical education. Medical Education, 2010. 44: p. 20-30.

2. Dornan, T., On complexity and craftsmanship. Medical Education, 2010. 44: p. 2-3.

3. Sennett, R., The Craftsman. 2008, London: Allen Lane.

4. Regehr, G., It's NOT rocket science: rethinking our metaphors for research in health professions education. Medical Education, 2010. 44: p. 31-39.


SUBMITTED BY: Jim Price
Support links: It's NOT rocket science: rethinking our metaphors for research in health professions education