Improving Primary Healthcare Education through lessons from a flock of birds.

30 Sep 2023

Every year, when the seasons change, flocks of birds migrate (approximately 20% of all species) to find new resources and breed1,2. Their journey will overcome multiple challenges (e.g., haematological, metabolic, and hormonal decreases, due to high energy consumption), until they finally and successfully reach their destination3. Similarly, primary care professionals strive in their journey to provide the best quality of care to their patients in an ever-changing, complex and challenging healthcare landscape4,5. Healthcare education has emerged as a valid method by which primary care professionals can be guided to overcome these challenges4. However, despite the assistance of healthcare educators, primary care professionals still experience challenges that may inhibit their ability to provide the best quality of care to their patients4. Interestingly, a flock of birds does not have an educator to nurture and guide them. Therefore, how do birds reach their destinations and what could educators learn from birds to help primary healthcare professionals reach their destination of providing high quality care to their patients? The answers may lie in complexity science. Studies about complexity have shown that a few simple principles guide flocks of birds: separate-avoid crowding; align-steer in roughly the same direction as each other, and cohere-steer towards the center of the mass6,7. In this way oceans are crossed, avoiding or overcoming multiple challenges along the way. Formations emerge that can cope with their ever-changing environment.

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Resource information

Type of resource
Peer-reviewed article
Tsiligianni I, Christodoulakis A, Williams S