Transforming Teachers - Economics

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  • Trusting math

    This article originally appeared on Septermber 1, 2015 in Comment,a publication of CARDUS: www.cardus.ca.

    For better or ill, my academic meanderings have brought me to a career where I spend the majority of my time building mathematical models to aid health-care managers in solving complex scheduling and capacityplanning problems. In other words, I try to convince health-care managers, on the strength of my word, to adopt often counterintuitive policies based on complex mathematical models they cannot hope to understand—and that doing so will provide better care for those who need it. Think of it as bringing Walmart's supply-chain sophistication to the world of health care. But what makes my work most difficult is not solving equations, or even explaining them. Rather, those I seek to convince are largely driven by a utilitarian ethic that uses mathematics to justify ends that, in my mind, contradict the proper goals of medicine.