Forward together: Medical education and training in palliative care

Dr Stephen Mason, Research and Development Lead at the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute Liverpool (MCPCIL) shares latest developments from the EAPC Steering Group on Medical Education and Training.

MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 13TH EAPC WORLD CONGRESS IN PRAGUE

Dr Stephen Mason

Dr Stephen Mason

As part of my role at the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute in Liverpool, I teach the undergraduate medical students about the challenges and importance of palliative care during their four-week 4th year teaching block. They are generally a mixed bunch – some very keen on palliative care, some not so. But within each cohort I am always impressed by the development of the students. Most of them come to realise that the core essence of palliative care is the core essence of good medical practice itself, and apply great effort to learn as much as they possibly can in order that they may serve their future patients well. As a result of my teaching, and my research in this area, I recently joined the EAPC Steering Group on Medical Education and Training. We met before the official opening of the EAPC Congress in Prague to review the progress of current task force projects, discuss potential new studies and then present these in an afternoon open meeting. 

Prof Carlos Centeno provided highlights from the developed EAPC Atlas of Palliative Care in Europe 2013 at the congress. Left to right: Maria Arantzamendi, María Rullán, Carlos Centeno, José Mario López of the ATLANTES research program of the University of Navarra)

Prof Carlos Centeno provided highlights from the developed EAPC Atlas of Palliative Care in Europe 2013 at the congress. Seen here at the EAPC stand (left to right): Maria Arantzamendi, María Rullán, Carlos Centeno, José Mario López of the ATLANTES research program of the University of Navarra

In the open meeting, Professor Carlos Centeno shared some of the findings from the European mapping project. Professor Centeno provided highlights from the developed EAPC Atlas of Palliative Care in Europe 2013 and it was especially interesting to see the development of varied palliative care services and support across Europe. Equally, the production of the Atlas itself is an impressive outcome and it is sure to become the primary vehicle for recording developments in the years to come. Following this, I presented the work of the IMEP study (International Medical Education in Palliative Care). This study has provided French, Italian, Spanish and German translations of two validated assessment tools that record the preparedness and attitudes of doctors in practising palliative care. The translated scales were applied to a small sample of newly qualified Doctors in France, Italy, Spain, England and Ireland. Among the results presented was the finding that the more exposure to palliative medicine as an undergraduate, the more confident doctors were in their abilities to meet the needs of patients, and more positive their attitudes towards palliative care. Subsequently, Professor Frank Elsner, Dr Steffen Eychmüller and Professor John Ellershaw talked about the work of the task force in reviewing the EAPC Recommendations for the development of undergraduates in palliative medicine for European Medical Schools, and the upcoming review of postgraduate recommendations against the backdrop of developments in the UK and Switzerland.

The open meeting was very well attended, with wide representation from across Europe as well as delegates from Japan and Jordan. A core theme in the discussions was the propagation of palliative care within existing medical curricula, and the view that the task force projects would provide valuable levers to encourage this.  For example, the Atlas illustrates how services, policy and teaching vary and this information can be used to push the agenda for increased integration of education and training. Equally, the translated assessment scales can be used, at local, national and international levels, to record the effects of undergraduate training programmes.  This data, combined with the consensus guidelines, may also provide some weight for those arguing to include or increase the core teaching of palliative care, and make sure that today’s students and tomorrow’s doctors are equipped with the skills to meet the needs of the patients that they will care for.

Find out more…

  • Click here for details of the task force projects under the steering group 
  • Download a copy of the EAPC Atlas of Palliative Care in Europe 2013: cartographic edition or full edition.

Prague Congress reports and presentations now online!
Even if you weren’t able to attend the 13th EAPC World Congress in Prague you can now find a selection of reports and presentations on the EAPC website. Click here to access the conference web page and then follow the instructions to login in the usual way.

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5 Responses to Forward together: Medical education and training in palliative care

  1. Pingback: Forward together: Medical education and training in palliative care ... - MEU India

  2. Pingback: Forward together: Medical education and training in palliative care | EAPC Blog | All Things Palliative - Article Feed

  3. Dear Doctor Stephen Mason,
    I am reading with great interest Your text. And Your sentence, ‘ … today’s students and tomorrow’s doctors are equipped with skills to meet the needs of the patients that they will care for’ contains the wholeness of Your Research, That word ‘ s k i l l s ‘ is so deep and so full, so full of knowledge-and-behaviour, where the There-Being-for-the-Patient belonging to the CareGiver must be always a new world to discover, because it’s just within his behvaviour and knowledge that his ‘ s k i l l s’ can be disclosed for the Other-in-Suffering-and-in-Pain.
    Luisella Magnani http://www.luisellamagnani.it

    • Dr Stephen Mason says:

      Dear Professor Magnani,

      many thanks for your kind comment on our work. Yes, the “skill set” for palliative care is very wide, and an excellent example of the neccessary blend of the art and science of medicine. We see the skill set as something dynamic, developing over time and with each clinical encounter. However, our graduating students often have limited practical experience of palliative care, and therefor it is important that find ways to include the development of these core skills within undergraduate curricula, to ensure the next generation of doctorshave a platform on which to develop and refine their approaches to patient care (and not only for palliative patients, but all patients they will work with).

      • Dear Doctor Stephen Mason,
        I want to thank You for the fullness of Your words, fullness as Concreteness of meaning. Development and refinement of approaches in clinical care means to give all the Patients that There-Being for Them, with Them, within Their Spaces and Times.
        Luisella Magnani

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