An Educational Needs Assessment for Outpatient Palliative Care Clinicians

J Palliat Med. 2022 Oct 18. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2022.0059. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: As the field of palliative medicine continues to grow in community-based settings, outpatient palliative care clinics have become an important site for providing upstream palliative care to patients and families. It is unclear whether current training models, focused predominantly on the inpatient setting, adequately prepare clinicians for outpatient palliative care practice. Methods: We performed an online educational needs assessment survey of physicians and advanced practice providers working in outpatient palliative care clinics. Survey questions focused on the importance of specific palliative care knowledge, skills, and attitudes in outpatient practice using the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education Hospice and Palliative Medicine (HPM) curricular milestones to guide survey development. We also explored clinician perception of training adequacy and current educational needs relevant to outpatient practice. Results: One hundred sixty-four clinicians, including 122 (74.4%) physicians, 32 (19.5%) nurse practitioners, and 8 (4.9%) physician assistants, completed our survey. Clinicians had a median of 10 years of HPM experience and 6 years of outpatient experience. We identified two main areas of perceived knowledge or skill deficit: navigating insurance and prior authorizations and co-management of pain and opioid use disorder. Conclusion: Addressing gaps in education and preparedness for outpatient practice is essential to improve clinician competence and efficiency as well as patient care, safety, and care coordination. This study identifies practice management and opioid stewardship as potential targets for educational interventions. The development of curricula related to these outpatient skills may improve clinicians' ability to provide safe, patient-centered care with confidence.

Keywords: community-based palliative care; educational design; medical education; needs assessment; outpatient.