Year Two, yeah!

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Year two of my EdD has begun with a new class (Organizational Analysis) and it feels like the end of the course work is actually a possibility. This is a six week stretch, with two classes back to back. Then one elective and a final doctoral seminar in the New Year. Four of my 2015 cohort are taking this class and I am impressed and proud at how far we’ve come. I remember this time last year, having no idea who 90% of the theorists we discussed were (now it’s probably down to around 70%). I think it’s fair to say that most of us felt the same. Compare to this week – when one us casually mentioned Foucault’s focus on governmentality related to field theory in new institutionalism! I know, right! have to point out that wasn’t me…. and it’s a good job that most of these critical theorists have YouTube videos made by people smarter than us that I can cheat from*!

I started off last year with a strong sense of what I wanted to study – LGB health care professionals and how their sexual orientation affects the patient-provider relationship. I segued (via a policy class) into LGBT patients and how their care and access is affected because of their minority status. This led to a collaborative paper, and a couple of conference talks on the subject. The research and presentations have been oddly cathartic. As with a lot of our discussion on social justice, it has given me language and data to support what my gut already knew. I don’t think I am finished with it – I would like to present the work within my own workplace and continue to push for improvements. However – the burning desire to find out and talk about it has dimmed a little bit. I am not sure what this means for my dissertation. I am reluctant to throw the LGBT baby out with the bathwater, but I am wondering if I would find anything new if I looked at BC Cancer Agency (BCCA) with an organizational analysis lens (now you can see why I am doing this class!)

I’ve been interested in patient education for a long time, and more lately the language and focus has shifted to “patient engagement” and “patient experience”. It’s (to me) old wine in new bottles – we know from narratives, qualitative research and just plain listening to patients that they want to be treated like human beings. However our systems are usually set up in direct opposition to this. A casual conversation with one of our leadership team at BCCA has got me thinking of a new way of providing patients with education, in the form of other people’s experiences. We know that patients coming for treatment want to know primarily “what will it be like”? Reading well-crafted stories can help with that. I am thinking about the great website Faces of Health Care from Ontario as an exemplar, or the UK’s Health Experiences Research Group. A friend from the UK has also co-developed a radiation therapy specific site along these lines. How cool would it be to have one for BCCA, with local stories and experiences, hints and tips and the normalisation of feelings related to diagnosis, treatment and beyond? I am wondering if narrative inquiry could be used for this – a brand new area for me but … I do love stories!

So…lots of ideas and possibilities and horizons opening up for miles! Onwards and upwards!

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