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Using paradox theory to understand responses to tensions between service and training in general surgery

Cleland, Jennifer; Roberts, Ruby; Kitto, Simon; Strand, Pia LU and Johnston, Peter (2018) In Medical Education 52(3). p.288-301
Abstract

CONTEXT: The tension between service and training in pressured health care environments can have a detrimental impact on training quality and job satisfaction. Yet the management literature proposes that competing demands are inherent in organisational settings: it is not the demands as such that lead to negative outcomes but how people and organisations react to opposing tensions. We explored how key stakeholders responded to competing service-training demands in a surgical setting that had recently gone through a highly-publicised organisational crisis.

METHODS: This was an explanatory case study of a general surgery unit. Public documents informed the research questions and the data were triangulated with semi-structured... (More)

CONTEXT: The tension between service and training in pressured health care environments can have a detrimental impact on training quality and job satisfaction. Yet the management literature proposes that competing demands are inherent in organisational settings: it is not the demands as such that lead to negative outcomes but how people and organisations react to opposing tensions. We explored how key stakeholders responded to competing service-training demands in a surgical setting that had recently gone through a highly-publicised organisational crisis.

METHODS: This was an explanatory case study of a general surgery unit. Public documents informed the research questions and the data were triangulated with semi-structured interviews (n = 14) with key stakeholders. Data coding and analysis were initially inductive but, after the themes emerged, we used a paradox lens to group themes into four contextual dimensions: performing, organising, belonging and learning.

RESULTS: Tensions were apparent in the data, with managers, surgeons and trainees or residents in conflict with each other because of different goals or priorities and divergent perspectives on the same issue of balancing service and training (performing). This adversely impacted on relationships across and within groups (belonging, learning) and led to individuals prioritising their own goals rather than working for the 'greater good' (performing, belonging). Yet although relationships and communication improved, the approach to getting a better balance maintained the 'compartmentalisation' of training (organising) rather than acknowledging that training and service cannot be separated.

DISCUSSION: Stakeholder responses to the tensions provided temporary relief but were unlikely to lead to real change if the tension between service and training was considered to be an interdependent and persistent paradox. Reframing the service-training paradox in this way may encourage adjusting responses to create effective working partnerships. Our findings add to the body of knowledge on this topic, and will resonate with all those engaged in surgical and other postgraduate training.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Medical Education
volume
52
issue
3
pages
288 - 301
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
external identifiers
  • scopus:85042127136
ISSN
0308-0110
DOI
10.1111/medu.13475
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
c658ece5-9dbe-4266-a5f5-d8d48d6c6f32
date added to LUP
2018-01-02 12:11:02
date last changed
2018-03-11 04:45:46
@article{c658ece5-9dbe-4266-a5f5-d8d48d6c6f32,
  abstract     = {<p>CONTEXT: The tension between service and training in pressured health care environments can have a detrimental impact on training quality and job satisfaction. Yet the management literature proposes that competing demands are inherent in organisational settings: it is not the demands as such that lead to negative outcomes but how people and organisations react to opposing tensions. We explored how key stakeholders responded to competing service-training demands in a surgical setting that had recently gone through a highly-publicised organisational crisis.</p><p>METHODS: This was an explanatory case study of a general surgery unit. Public documents informed the research questions and the data were triangulated with semi-structured interviews (n = 14) with key stakeholders. Data coding and analysis were initially inductive but, after the themes emerged, we used a paradox lens to group themes into four contextual dimensions: performing, organising, belonging and learning.</p><p>RESULTS: Tensions were apparent in the data, with managers, surgeons and trainees or residents in conflict with each other because of different goals or priorities and divergent perspectives on the same issue of balancing service and training (performing). This adversely impacted on relationships across and within groups (belonging, learning) and led to individuals prioritising their own goals rather than working for the 'greater good' (performing, belonging). Yet although relationships and communication improved, the approach to getting a better balance maintained the 'compartmentalisation' of training (organising) rather than acknowledging that training and service cannot be separated.</p><p>DISCUSSION: Stakeholder responses to the tensions provided temporary relief but were unlikely to lead to real change if the tension between service and training was considered to be an interdependent and persistent paradox. Reframing the service-training paradox in this way may encourage adjusting responses to create effective working partnerships. Our findings add to the body of knowledge on this topic, and will resonate with all those engaged in surgical and other postgraduate training.</p>},
  author       = {Cleland, Jennifer and Roberts, Ruby and Kitto, Simon and Strand, Pia and Johnston, Peter},
  issn         = {0308-0110},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {288--301},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {Medical Education},
  title        = {Using paradox theory to understand responses to tensions between service and training in general surgery},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/medu.13475},
  volume       = {52},
  year         = {2018},
}