Study Looks at Doctors and Middle Schoolers

Doctors Messy Desk

A study done by the University of Smithfield found that doctors organize at the level of a middle schooler. The study was done in an effort to find out why providers are solely relying on patients to review their own medical history. The study looked at 100 doctors and how they organized their patient’s digital files, and 100 middle schoolers and how they organized their schoolwork. The results showed that while organizational skills were similar, middle schools overall performed better than doctors.

The study looked at 2 factors; How documents are organized, and how often documents are reviewed to ensure they are still relevant. The doctors were found to keep a patient’s files in an average of 3 different folders, all with slightly different file names. On average, students were found to keep papers in 3 locations; a folder, loose in a backpack, or the bottom of their locker. Both groups were found to be equally reluctant to review outdated paperwork.

The study shines a light on why providers are relying on patients to “advocate” for themselves. A participant in the study, Doctor Peter Weaver said “My organizational skills are awful, but I am good at blaming. When the whole ‘advocate for yourself’ term became popular, I was ecstatic. The phrase just rolls off the tongue. It absolves me of any responsibility.” Doctor Weaver continued “Once I get done with a visit, I save my patient file somewhere on my computer and never look at it again. Why should I have to spend my time reading when my patient can advocate for themself.”

The researchers hope the study will prompt Universities to implement courses on organizational skills in the future. Universities across the country have found the study intriguing but do not plan on implementing any new classes. The Universities stated that they will not overwhelm future doctors when advocates should be capable of organizing their medical history.

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