Reviewer: Stephen J. Lanspa, MD, FACP (Creighton University Medical Center)
Description: This paperback is a guide for personal change through learning.
Purpose: Although the aim is to develop enthusiasm for change in healthcare, I believe the book is better regarded as a training manual for leadership and communication.
Audience: The author intends the book for students, teachers, trainers, and professionals who work in or use healthcare, and assumes no previous knowledge of the themes. As the book is a British publication and the author works for the National Health Service, her authority on the subject matter presumably derives from her experience in that country. She was a member of the development team establishing the NHS University ("an initiative in which learning is seen as central to improving the patient experience"), and the Open University Business School, which developed distance learning materials for managers in healthcare.
Features: Although not long, the descriptions of leadership and learning theories are still a bit drawn out. For example, the chapter "Leading Learning" contains subheadings of "learned from evidence," "the nature of evidence," "sufficient...," "authentic...," and "valid evidence" could be a quicker read. References are pertinent, current and sufficient to allow an in-depth study of leadership. Self-reflection exercises to enhance awareness and leadership are presented in each chapter and are appropriate for small groups, as well as individuals.
Assessment: Although intended for all levels, most physicians will want some real-world examples of awareness, learning and leadership changing outcomes (as opposed to citing expert opinion). Medical school graduates who have studied behavior, learning theory, and communication may find it a bit superficial. The focus seems to be on thoughts, not behaviors, that lead to change. The best use of the book may be in the pre-med curriculum as a stimulus to discussion of how society addresses sickness and health.