My doctor friends are always amused when education folks hold up the medical field as the exemplary profession. But medical envy is rampant across classrooms, offices, and the blogosphere, where the frustrated opine: “If only our society held teachers in the same regard as doctors…” and “If only teachers were paid like doctors…”and the politically-charged, “If only teachers had self-organized as professional associations, rather than adopt the industrial union model…” (see Rotherham’s blog post for a harsh snippet comparing the AMA and the NEA).

Another example – Dr. Atul Gawande’s book Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance, which describes the challenges of increasing performance in the medical field, is now required reading in some graduate-level education policy classes.

Over in the teacher-prep side, a recent National Council for Teaching Quality (NCTQ) study compares teacher prep programs in Illinois, with pretty sobering results. The NCTQ work is similar to an early-20th century study of medical schools – a study which contributed to the eventual shuttering of almost half of all medical schools due to abysmal performance.* Ben Carey also has an interesting take on preparation programs across sectors.

And coming up next month over in the data-driven part of town, Education Sector will tell us what can be learned from the medical field (not to mention Google and Farmville!) around data collection and use. Their seminar, Next Decade of Education Data takes place Dec. 7 in Washington, DC.

And so, readers out there – do you agree that the education field has much to learn from the medical field, especially around performance, preparation programs, and data?

*UPD is actually working with the NCTQ to bring this study national. More on that to come. (JF)