South Asian History Month: Breaking barriers – The imperative of an innovative mindset for clinicians from a South Asian background
01 July, 2023
This blog post is part of our 2023 South Asian History Month celebrations.
In this blog post, we will delve into the importance of developing an innovative mindset, the current barriers that hinder unconventional approaches, and how cultivating this mindset can greatly benefit clinicians in their careers and patient care.
As healthcare professionals, our foremost objective is to provide the highest quality care for our patients. However, in today's rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, it is crucial for us to not only meet this objective but also embrace innovation and think outside the box. This need for innovation is particularly significant for clinicians from a South Asian background, as the education system in the south Asian countries often fails to encourage innovative thinking.
Education system and innovation: Traditionally, the medical education system in South Asian countries has been centred around rote learning and standardized testing. While this approach may have its merits in certain fields, it tends to stifle creativity and discourage innovative thinking.
As medical students and trainee psychiatrists, we are trained to memorize vast amounts of information without sufficient emphasis on critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. Rarely were we asked about our special interests or encouraged to explore innovative solutions during ward rounds for day-to-day clinical issues. This lack of emphasis on innovation becomes a significant hurdle when we enter the dynamic world of healthcare after completing our training.
The fear of taking positive risks: Clinicians from a South Asian background often display risk-averse tendencies when it comes to their career paths, choosing the safe and established routes. However, this attitude can limit our growth and prevent us from exploring new avenues. While prioritizing patient safety is of utmost importance, it is equally vital to take calculated risks in order to advance medical knowledge and improve patient outcomes.
The impact on clinical innovation, leadership, and entrepreneurship: In my opinion, our rigid thinking patterns can hinder our potential as clinical innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs. Clinical innovation serves as the driving force behind advancements in medical technology, treatments, and procedures.
Without a mindset that encourages innovation, clinicians from South Asian backgrounds may fall behind in pioneering ground-breaking research or developing novel approaches to patient care. Furthermore, an innovative mindset empowers clinicians to explore entrepreneurial opportunities, such as developing healthcare startups or implementing innovative healthcare delivery models.
Current barriers faced by clinicians from a South Asian background when it comes to taking unconventional routes:
Visa Issues: Clinicians from South Asian backgrounds may encounter complex visa regulations that limit their ability to pursue unconventional career paths within the NHS. Obtaining the necessary work permits and visa sponsorships can be time-consuming, costly, and uncertain.
Financial Constraints: Financial burdens, such as student loans or familial financial responsibilities, can restrict clinicians from taking risks associated with unconventional career choices. The pressure to secure a stable income and meet financial obligations often leads them towards more conventional routes, limiting their ability to explore innovative avenues that may require financial investment or temporary income uncertainty.
Childcare Responsibilities: Cultural expectations often place a significant burden of childcare responsibilities on clinicians from South Asian backgrounds, particularly women. Balancing professional aspirations with family obligations can limit the time and energy available for pursuing unconventional career paths.
Cultural Expectations and Perceptions of Success: South Asian cultures often place a strong emphasis on completing education within a specific timeframe or at a particular age. The pressure to conform to societal expectations and achieve material wealth as a measure of success can discourage clinicians from deviating from the conventional path. This cultural compulsion may overshadow the pursuit of innovation, freedom, and excellence in their professional journeys.
Why it is imperative for clinicians to develop an innovative mindset: The next 20 years will mark a significant departure from the traditional clinical practices of the past 200 years. The evolving landscape will be characterized by interdisciplinary collaboration, technology-enabled care, and a patient-centric approach.
Clinicians with an innovative mindset are well-positioned to embrace these changes, adapt to new care delivery models, and navigate the complexities of healthcare systems. They will be at the forefront of implementing transformative technologies, ensuring improved patient outcomes, and enhancing healthcare experiences.
In conclusion, as clinicians, it is our responsibility to not only provide exceptional care to our patients but also to embrace innovation and foster an innovative mindset. Despite the barriers that clinicians from South Asian backgrounds may face, it is crucial that we come together as a community to support and uplift each other. By collaborating, sharing experiences, and finding solutions to these barriers, we can empower ourselves and unleash our true innovative capabilities.