Friday, March 02, 2007

The Usefulness of Analogies

Pat Keith is a retired elementary school principal. I know her because we share grandsons. Here are her thoughts on the usefulness of analogies and their application to health care:

As a retired educator and administrator who has no expertise in health care management, it helps me to speak to the improvement of health care in educational terms. We know there is no "easy button" for such a complicated problem; however, it is incumbent upon each of us to be responsible patients and responsible caretakers of the very young and very old. If we consider patients as "children", doctors as "teachers", advocates as "parents" and health care managers as "school administrators", we can draw analogies that make sense to us all.

For the best outcomes to be achieved, children need to do their homework, follow some basic rules, ask the right questions and engage in the learning process; supported, encouraged and supervised by their parents. Teachers must know their craft, study, consult their colleagues, treat each child with dignity and recognize individuals who may learn in a way unlike others. A sense of humor is required!

Then we have the principals who need to be out of their offices and in the classrooms, with a finger on the pulse of the building overall. They continually evaluate programs and personnel, keeping what works and discarding what doesn't. They must listen, counsel, budget creatively and make tough decisions - always putting children first.

I am confident that each reader could continue these analogies. Such requirements of the principal players in health care would be an "elementary" but strong beginning in improving the system.

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