Raising the bar for the care of seriously ill patients: Results of a national survey to define essential palliative care competencies for medical students and residents

Kristen G. Schaefer, Eva H. Chittenden, Amy M. Sullivan, Vyjeyanth S. Periyakoil, Laura J. Morrison, Elise C. Carey, Sandra Sanchez-Reilly, Susan D. Block

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

58 Scopus citations

Abstract

PURPOSE: Given the shortage of palliative care specialists in the United States, to ensure quality of care for patients with serious, life-threatening illness, generalist-level palliative care competencies need to be defined and taught. The purpose of this study was to define essential competencies for medical students and internal medicine and family medicine (IM/FM) residents through a national survey of palliative care experts. METHOD: Proposed competencies were derived from existing hospice and palliative medicine fellowship competencies and revised to be developmentally appropriate for students and residents. In spring 2012, the authors administered a Web-based, national cross-sectional survey of palliative care educational experts to assess ratings and rankings of proposed competencies and competency domains. RESULTS: The authors identified 18 comprehensive palliative care competencies for medical students and IM/FM residents, respectively. Over 95% of survey respondents judged the competencies as comprehensive and developmentally appropriate (survey response rate = 72%, 71/98). Using predefined cutoff criteria, experts identified 7 medical student and 13 IM/FM resident competencies as essential. Communication and pain/symptom management were rated as the most critical domains. CONCLUSIONS: This national survey of palliative care experts defines comprehensive and essential palliative care competencies for medical students and IM/FM residents that are specific, measurable, and can be used to report educational outcomes; provide a sequence for palliative care curricula in undergraduate and graduate medical education; and highlight the importance of educating medical trainees in communication and pain management. Next steps include seeking input and endorsement from stakeholders in the broader medical education community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1024-1031
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Medicine
Volume89
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2014

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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