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Conn Med. 2012 Feb;76(2):99-106.

The ebb and flow model: a philosophy of organizational learning in the academic health center.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Connecticut Children's Medical Center, Hartford, USA.


Academic health centers (AHCs) have traditionally been a vibrant locale for cutting-edge medical research, androgogic education and innovative clinical care for the most vexing diseases. While these pursuits have coexisted and flourished, the realities of the health-care business environment have demanded reformatting and emulation of a corporate organizational model. This evolution has impacted the core identities of the AHC and challenged individual medical-educators, clinician-scientists and basic science investigators to persist and succeed in this milieu. The AHC has a unique capacity to muster the innate learning drive of these individuals into an organizational mission as it balances the pressures exerted from both the internal and external environments. The AHC as an organization can be viewed as an experimental condition with modifiable variables to which its professionals can react, adapt to, and transform. Organizational learning and change implementation is in essence an experiment in human behavior modification. While all individuals are subject to change, merely assembling them in a single locale determines neither a predictable homogeneous outcome nor the success of their endeavor. This article highlights some of these propositions and offers a philosophical approach to advance the AHC as an organization through the creativity and innovation of its professional ranks.

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