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Being a surgeon or doing surgery? A qualitative study of learning in the operating room

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Context: A key concern for surgical educators is to prepare students to perform in the operating room while ensuring patient safety. Recent years have seen a renewed discussion of medical education through practice theoretical and sociomaterial lenses. These lenses are introduced to understand and prepare the learner to perform in the given context. This paper takes its point of departure from practice theory by introducing a lens through which to understand learning environments in surgery. Methods: Using a multi-site ethnographic and practice-based design, this study investigates how aspiring surgical students are stirred into surgical practices and learn to engage as surgeons. During 70 hours of observations of medical students’ participation in the operating room, we analysed how the phenomenon of surgical learning can be perceived as instances of transformation in and among social practices. Results: By applying an analytical perspective, this article highlights the use of practice theory in surgical education, which can help to establish a firmer understanding of the learning environment and thereby help educators to improve curricula and prepare students more effectively to enter surgical training. Conclusions: The use of a practice theory adds the perspective that the education of surgeons needs to take the sayings, doings and relatings that constitute a surgical practice into account when preparing students to perform in their future workplace. In this way, surgical training can be perceived as a process of being stirred into practice. This means that one learns by participating in the practice of providing high-quality care, where the aim is to teach students to be surgeons instead of teaching them to perform surgery.

TidsskriftMedical Education
Sider (fra-til)861-876
Antal sider16
StatusUdgivet - 1 aug. 2018

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