January 2018 Research Rounds

Untangling Complex Clinical Situations: A Case for Systems Thinking in Medical Education

Dr. Sayra Cristancho

Sayra Cristancho

Print version

Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Time: 12:00pm to 1:30pm (feel free to bring a bagged lunch)


  • DHCC 2267 (host venue)
  • IRC 305
  • RJH CA 120
  • NHSC 9-374


  • Additional locations and video conference options are available. Please email ches.secretary@ubc.ca to process the request.


With the increasing complexity of the healthcare workplace, even experienced clinicians will encounter practice situations that test their limits and require them to adapt. What they do in these situations has profound implications for the quality and safety of patient care. In this presentation, I will introduce Systems Engineering principles and present evidence to tackle the question of how healthcare professionals adapt to complex workplace situations both individually and in teams. In particular, how members of a team define the same problem differently, how they deal with the sense of ‘institutionalized disconnect’ that emerge from having conflicting perspectives, how they seek help, and how these responses relate to their ability to become resilient. Understanding the ways in which these behaviours are enacted in the workplace will help healthcare professionals and educators become aware of the skills necessary for effective collaboration across professions. Through this presentation I will provide language to encourage explicit discussions about complex workplace situations and to inform educational strategies for promoting collaborative teamwork.


Dr. Sayra Cristancho is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery and a Scientist in the Centre for Education Research & Innovation (CERI) at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University, London, Ontario, Canada. After completing her undergraduate and master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering in Colombia, she immigrated to Canada to pursue her PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Cristancho’s transition into medical education research began to take place during her postdoctoral fellowship at SickKids Hospital in Toronto. Since joining CERI in 2010, Dr. Cristancho’s research program is investigating the nature of working in complex and high-stakes situations. Her work focuses on: 1) understanding how organizational, social and personal factors determine the evolution of a complex clinical situation, and 2) their influence on how clinical teams adapt to the complexities of their professional practice. Towards this end, Dr. Cristancho uses both Qualitative and Systems Engineering approaches to inform her research.


The University of British Columbia Division of Continuing Professional Development (UBC CPD) is fully accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Continuing Medical Education (CACME) to provide study credits for continuing medical education for physicians. This course has been reviewed and approved by the UBC Division of Continuing Professional Development. This Group Learning course meets the certification criteria of the College of Family Physicians of Canada and has been certified by UBC CPD for up to 1.5 Mainpro+ credits. This course is an Accredited Group Learning Activity eligible for up to 1.5 MOC Section 1 credits as defined by the Maintenance of Certification program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Each physician should claim only those credits he/she actually spent in the activity.

Accredited by UBC CPD