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Progress and divergence in palliative care education for medical students: A comparative survey of UK course structure, content, delivery, contact with patients and assessment of learning


 

Each month, one article from Palliative Medicine, the EAPC's official research journal, is selected as 'Editor's choice' and the author invited to contribute a short post to the EAPC blog explaining the background to the full article in the journal. This month's 'Editor's choice' is described below with access to the free PDF version.  (You can also read the blog post version here)

Abstract

Background: Effective undergraduate education is required to enable newly qualified doctors to safely care for patients with palliative care and end-of-life needs. The status of palliative care teaching for UK medical students is unknown.

Aim: To investigate palliative care training at UK medical schools and compare with data collected in 2000.

Design: An anonymised, web-based multifactorial questionnaire.

Settings/participants: Results were obtained from palliative care course organisers at all 30 medical schools in 2013 and compared with 23 medical schools (24 programmes) in 2000.

Results: All continue to deliver mandatory teaching on ‘last days of life, death and bereavement’. Time devoted to palliative care teaching time varied (2000: 6–100 h, mean 20 h; 2013: 7–98 h, mean 36 h, median 25 h). Current palliative care teaching is more integrated. There was little change in core topics and teaching methods. New features include ‘involvement in clinical areas’, participation of patient and carers and attendance at multidisciplinary team meetings. Hospice visits are offered (22/24 (92%) vs 27/30 (90%)) although they do not always involve patient contact. There has been an increase in students’ assessments (2000: 6/24, 25% vs 2013: 25/30, 83%) using a mixture of formative and summative methods. Some course organisers lack an overview of what is delivered locally.

Conclusion: Undergraduate palliative care training continues to evolve with greater integration, increased teaching, new delivery methods and wider assessment. There is a trend towards increased patient contact and clinical involvement. A minority of medical schools offer limited teaching and patient contact which could impact on the delivery of safe palliative care by newly qualified doctors.

Keywords
Palliative care, terminal care, medical education, education medical undergraduate, students medical, data collection

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Written By: Steven Walker, Jane Gibbins, Stephen Barclay, Astrid Adams, Paul Paes, Madama Chandratilake, Faye Gishen, Philip Lodge and Bee Wee
Published: 11-10-2016


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Progress and divergence in palliative care education for medical students: A comparative survey of UK course structure, content, delivery, contact with patients and assessment of learning
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