Antonio Noguera Tejedor, Palliative Care Physician, Researcher at Institute for Culture and Society, ATLANTES Programme, University of Navarra, Spain
For the past five years, the Institute for Culture and Society at the University of Navarra, jointly with the Vianorte-Laguna Foundation from Madrid, has been promoting advanced training for palliative care educators in Spain. This is how our course began . . .
In 2010, encouraged by Dr Carlos Centeno, I first attended the Train the Trainers Basic Course led by the University of Liverpool. At that time, I had no idea of the impact that experience would have on me as a teacher, and on the development of the subject of palliative care in Spanish universities.
Thanks to the presence and support of Dr Ruthmarijke Smeding, our course, based on over 20 years’ experience and taught in more than 15 countries, was launched in Spain in April 2012. How could we ever imagine what was about to occur? Perhaps the combination of a top-level course with a congenial working atmosphere, the transforming energy of education, and exposure to new initiatives, has created a favourable environment to promote the development of palliative care education in Spanish universities. The course participants themselves might explain it better:
“My experience of this course has been absolutely positive for a number of reasons: it has made me reflect on the importance of concentrating upon students when preparing the lecture. It has made me see the great impact that the diverse education programmes might have on professionals from different areas and how, if it is well-planned, this impact can be even bigger.”
Dr Marcos Lama, San Juan de Dios Hospital, Pamplona.
“We have learnt how to integrate care for emotions, without forgetting the ability for intellectual abstraction; and the possibility of learning by role play, without leaving out anyone who prefers to observe or reflect. All these through a very participative methodology that has allowed the students’ marvellous, sometimes baffling, sense of humour to flourish.”
Dr Jaime Boceta, Virgen de la Macarena Hospital, Seville.
Currently, out of the 40 faculties of medicine in Spain, 21 teach palliative care. In eight, it is taught as a mandatory subject, and in 13 as an optional one.1 Following the Train the Trainers course, other initiatives have emerged. The Spanish Society of Palliative Care (SECPAL) has created a task force that aims to develop palliative medicine in universities. 2 It collaborates with strategic allies such as the National Council of Medical Students (CEEM). For future Spanish doctors, it will be a priority that palliative care should be a mandatory subject in all faculties of medicine in our country. 3
We have a promising future, and we all trust in the transforming power of education, both at personal and professional levels. And why not dream a little of a society where every day we are learning better ways of how to care for patients?
- Carrasco JM, Lynch T, Garralda E, Woitha K, Elsner F, Filbet M, Ellsershaw J, Clark D, Centeno. Palliative Care Medical Education in European Universities: A descriptive study and numerical scoring system proposal for assessing educational development. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2015. Oct; 50(4):516-23.e2. doi:10.1016/j. j pain sym man. 2015.04.019.
- Boceta J. Grupo de trabajo SECPAL sobre formación médica en medicina en la universidad española. Med Paliat 2016; 23: 53-4.
- Consejo Estatal de Estudiantes de Medicina. (Accessed 28 June 2016). Documentos. Principales Archivos del CEEM. Libro de posicionamientos; 30-1:
- Institute of Culture and Society, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.
- Fundación Vianorte Laguna, Madrid, Spain.
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