Accreditation as a social defense

Healthcare management struggles to be both a scholarly discipline and a legitimate practice. Legitimacy is often equated with being “business like”. As such, healthcare management scholars and practitioners have made “professionalization” a priority in an effort to legitimize the field (Gerard, 2019; 2021). Accreditation is at the center of this effort.

Accreditation of healthcare management programs (along with clinics, behavioral health programs, and hospitals) makes sense on the surface, but it is also a way that faculty and students (and clinicians, managers, and executives), unconsciously, protect themselves from having to confront the field’s complicity with questionable managerial techniques that at best reinforce existing health (and healthcare) inequities and, at worst, exacerbate social injustices.

Working in healthcare settings, as managers and as clinicians, requires awareness of self and other experiences in the face of acute fear, anxiety, loss of hope, and even death – while holding hope for recovery, health, and life. Yet, in today’s healthcare environments, managers and clinical staff avoid these emotional complexities with technical models, data-driven interventions, and pretentions to rigorous science. The psychoanalytic question here: what do these efforts represent unconsciously, and what do they attempt to cover over or deny?

Read more…

Healthcare, management, and the humanities

A recent commentary by Nathan Gerard argues that the humanities can offer new ways of understanding and doing research, teaching, and scholarship in the field of healthcare management. The two fields intersect in the desire to know, to understand, something about the human experience. The paper focuses on three areas in particular: “lived experiences of management”, the “tyranny of metrics”, and “confronting rather than avoiding anxiety”. The paper’s aim is to “encourage interdisciplinary dialogue”. Gains made through such engagement could include “substantiating critical healthcare management scholarship, collaborating with humanities educators to design novel curricula, proposing alternatives to unduly circumscribed performance targets and competency assessments, creating case studies of formative experiences of practicing healthcare managers, and advancing guidelines for better managing anxiety and its concomitant stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue in healthcare organizations”. Gerard’s comments are specific to the field of healthcare management, but they can also challenge us to think differently about the practices of management, research, and teaching more broadly – how can we engage with disciplines such as literature, philosophy, poetry, and the arts and why should we?