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, 14 (1), 59-64

The Impact of a Clinical Rotation in Hospice: Medical Students' Perspectives

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The Impact of a Clinical Rotation in Hospice: Medical Students' Perspectives

Liva H Jacoby et al. J Palliat Med.

Abstract

Medical educators agree that training in end-of-life care (EOLC) must be an integral part of medical education at all levels. While progress in this area of education has taken place, many gaps still exist. This article describes the self-reported impact of a required one-week hospice rotation for third-year medical students. Students completing their hospice rotation during a one-year period were asked to write an essay describing the most important lessons they learned. Qualitative analyses of the essays revealed 10 core themes and generated a coding schema for detailed analysis. Students' essays reflected knowledge gained, emotional reactions, cognitive insights, and relationship-centered skills. Comments focused on the following themes: benefits and philosophy of hospice; impact on future practice; interdisciplinary team approach; management of pain and suffering; facts about hospice; personal impact; communication with patients and families; dedication and skill of staff; role of families; and value of home care. Students consistently recognized the significance of positive role models. Learning about a new field of medicine helped broaden students' knowledge, skills, and beliefs, and expanded their assumptions about illness and suffering, the role of health care professionals, and the goals of medicine. Reflection and writing brought about self-awareness of the learning process itself. The study demonstrates that a robust clinical EOLC exposure can be effectively incorporated into undergraduate education and that student self-reports constitute a valuable mode of evaluation. Longitudinal assessments of trainees' competencies in EOLC are needed to optimize these educational endeavors.

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