6 months in….shifting frameworks, Foucault and procrastination

So….this summer I started a professional doctorate (EdD at UBC) and after a lot of prevarication, perseveration and procrastination I have decided to write about it. A bit. Or parts of it. When I feel like it…..OK – let’s just see how this goes!

My grand idea was to explore complex themes of reflexivity and subsequently mine meaningful nuggets of wisdom from the blog to inform my world-changing doctoral thesis. In all likelihood it will be yet another form of displacement activity and comprise of observations about being a middle-aged student on a campus filled with hipsters – possibly sprinkled with insights about Foucault (I have none at the moment, but that man seems to pop up everywhere).

To say that it’s been a mind-blower would be an understatement. The program is designed for people working full time in educational leadership roles. Most of the participants are in K-!2 or higher education-type roles – a whole new vocabulary and frame of reference for the lonely two of us in health care (social work and radiation therapy). So far it’s been an uneasy juggling act of writing papers, group work, actual work-work, family stuff, binge-eating and panic. Already the subconscious whisper of “you should be writing”  manages to flavour my (so-called) leisure activities*.  The program format is 8 courses (including 2 electives), exams then the dissertation – in theory over 3 years (although average completion time is 7). Having gone the DCR (diploma) – end on degree- radiotherapy Masters route beloved of those trained in the UK in the 1980s (and before) I have very little experience of critical theorists like the lovely Monsieur Foucault – or concepts like neo-liberalism (hint – not a good thing) and (I am rather ashamed to say) even philosophers like Plato (a frequent guest star in our ethics course). But I am glad to report, it is all rather wonderful to consciously shift away from the technical focus of my day job and look at such questions as ‘what makes a good life’ in the company of 10 wise, kind and experienced people. It’s a luxury and a privilege to be able to tackle these ideas, and better late than never!

My probable area of investigation is the experiences of health care professionals (HCPs) who are gay, lesbian and bisexual (GLB) in the cancer care system – I am really interested how their sexual orientation plays into (or doesn’t) their relationship with patients. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about GLB patients in our system – we could definitely make some improvements in helping them access care and feel welcome. Most of the research examining HCPs looks at the work environment – at homophobia for example. I would love to look at where the patient and HCP’s ‘horizons of understanding” meet (a concept from Gadamer illustrating the need to fully understand the other in a relationship). Does it make a difference? Does it matter? Does sexuality affect the fusion of horizons? Will I pick Gadermarian phenomenology as my critical framework – do I really know what it means yet? Stay tuned – more to come!


*Currently consisting of trying to keep up with my tyrannical FitBit, mess around with #MedRadJClub and binge watch Brooklyn 99. Oh….and Dr. Who.