PhD Progress & Thoughts

PhD Challenge

I came across a philosophical dilemma the other week. An issue of Gestalt. My hypothetical model, even in its creation and development stages, needs to be greater than the sum of its parts. It needs to actually make a difference and improve something in the hospital working environment. Working conditions, strategic operations, management practices…something. Anything.

My official PhD title is ‘Hospital Governance and Resilience’, but in a nutshell I’m seeking to identify how hospitals can ideally operate, even amidst a crisis situation. How do we get Quality of Patient Care to an optimum level? How do we make hospitals desirable places to work? How can we cut back unnecessary costs and focus resources where they’re really needed? And, perhaps most importantly, how do I prevent the onus of Resilience from being a burden on employees, when it’s the responsibility of the organisation to not require employees to ‘be resilient’ against its ordinary operations?

Its a conundrum that has been bothering me for weeks, and really lies at the heart of my project. It’s what’s motivating me and pushing the project forward. It’s the real answer I seek – not the periphery answers that my Professor is excited about, legitimate as they are. Part of me cares a lot less about the potential publications to be achieved, conferences to display my work, and promotions to be earned; I want a real answer to my problem, and the power to tell the world how to achieve solutions to these problems.

In an attempt to solve these problems I have been reading articles, textbooks, papers and Twitter threads on the topic. It’s confusing, and vague, and exhausting. Everyone agrees, yet nobody knows that everyone agrees. Staff all have a consensus on exactly what’s wrong with their hospitals, yet nobody seems to be in a position to fix it. Academic authors have been writing for decades on the issue of inexperienced and unskilled management and how this has far-reaching, long-lasting impacts in organisations, yet change is not happening. At least, it’s certainly not happening fast enough.

So what is my project, other than an alarm bell? Will my PhD serve no other purpose than to tell people off, and serve as a warning? Or, will I actually be able to have a hand in solving the problems that cause doctors to lose all hope for their careers, and patients to suffer from preventable errors?

If anyone has pointers I’d love to hear them. For now it seems I’ll be agitatedly pacing up and down my street, begging my brain to work and have a light-bulb moment.

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