Are newly qualified doctors prepared to provide supportive and end-of-life care? A survey of Foundation Year 1 doctors and consultants

J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 2013;43(1):24-8. doi: 10.4997/JRCPE.2013.105.


Objective: To establish whether Foundation Year 1 (FY1) doctors in Edinburgh are sufficiently prepared to deliver generalist palliative care, with a view to informing developments in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education.

Methods: Questionnaires were sent to FY1 doctors and to supervising consultants. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five FY1 doctors.

Results: A total of 60 FY1 doctors and 31 consultants replied. The majority of FY1 doctors did not feel well-prepared to deliver basic palliative care, especially when managing distress and social issues. Consultants agreed that FY1 doctors were underprepared. Junior doctors reported high levels of distress themselves, with few seeking support from senior colleagues. Both sets of respondents made suggestions for curricular improvements.

Conclusions: Newly qualified doctors were not adequately prepared to deliver generalist palliative care and lacked first-hand experience of end-of-life issues. Current reviews of palliative care education should address the learning and supportive needs of our most junior doctors more effectively.

Keywords: Palliative care; education; learning; teaching; undergraduate.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Consultants*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Palliative Care*
  • Physicians*
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Terminal Care*