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The Reith Lectures

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19 Dec 2014

The College has recognised this year’s Reith Lectures, delivered by Dr Atul Gawande, as being accredited for personal CPD.

3 points are available for listening to the lectures which are available through the BBC Radio 4 Website.

Atul Gawande, MD, MPH is a practicing surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Professor at both the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. Known for both his clear analysis and vivid storytelling, he  explores the growing importance of systems in medicine and argue that the future role of the medical profession in our lives should be bigger than simply assuring health and survival.


The 2014 Reith Lectures

The first lecture, Why do Doctors Fail?, explores the nature of imperfection in medicine. In particular, Gawande  examines how much of failure in medicine remains due to ignorance (lack of knowledge) and how much is due to ineptitude (failure to use existing knowledge) and what that means for where medical progress will come from in the future.

In the second lecture, The Century of the System, Gawande focuses on the impact that the development of systems has had – and should have in the future - on medicine and overcoming failures of ineptitude. He dissects systems of all kinds, from simple checklists to complex mechanisms of many parts. And he argues for how they can be better designed to transform care from the richest parts of the world to the poorest.

The third lecture, The Problem of Hubris, examines the great unfixable problems in life and healthcare - aging and death. Gawande argues that the reluctance of society and medical institutions to recognise the limits of what professionals can do is producing widespread suffering. But research is revealing how this can change.

The fourth and final lecture, The Idea of Wellbeing, argues that medicine must shift from a focus on health and survival to a focus on wellbeing - on protecting, insofar as possible, people’s abilities to pursue their highest priorities in life. And, as he suggests from the story of his father’s life and death from cancer, those priorities are nearly always more complex than simply to live longer.

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