Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Health Care Anal. 2017 Oct 6. doi: 10.1007/s10728-017-0351-9. [Epub ahead of print]

Scientism in Medical Education and the Improvement of Medical Care: Opioids, Competencies, and Social Accountability.

Author information

Department of Bioethics, Dalhousie University, PO Box 15000, Halifax, NS, B3H 4R2, Canada.


Scientism in medical education distracts educators from focusing on the content of learning; it focuses attention instead on individual achievement and validity in its measurement. I analyze the specific form that scientism takes in medicine and in medical education. The competencies movement attempts to challenge old "scientistic" views of the role of physicians, but in the end it has invited medical educators to focus on validity in the measurement of individual performance for attitudes and skills that medicine resists conceptualizing as objective. Academic medicine should focus its efforts instead on quality and relevance of care. The social accountability movement proposes to shift the focus of academic medicine to the goal of high quality and relevant care in the context of community service and partnership with the institutions that together with medicine create and cope with health and with health deficits. I make the case for this agenda through a discussion of the linked histories of the opioid prescribing crisis and the professionalism movement.


Health equity; Medical education; Opioid prescribing; Professionalism; Scientism; Social accountability

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Springer
    Loading ...
    Support Center