Association for Palliative Medicine Special Interest Forum – Undergraduate Medical Education meeting

University of Liverpool, Thursday April 3rd, 2014

Downloadable PDF of the Report here

New doctors will look after forty dying people in their first year after qualification. How can we prepare medical students to provide the best possible care for these patients?  More than 50 participants attended the second annual conference of the APM SIF in Undergraduate Medical Education, held in Liverpool on 3rd April 2014. Since the inaugural meeting in Cambridge in 2013, the updated APM Undergraduate Curriculum has been approved by the APM Executive Board. A complimentary mapping document of the updated APM curriculum with the current edition of the GMC’s Tomorrow’s Doctors is available to champion the role of Palliative Medicine in the medical undergraduate curriculum. The APM Juniors committee is now fully inaugurated and recruiting; collecting resources and providing leadership for students and junior doctors interested in Palliative Medicine.

Amongst the invited speakers, Tista Chakravarty-Gannon, General Medical Council (GMC) North West Regional Liaison Adviser, explained the key regulatory impetus for ensuring excellent palliative care education in undergraduate education. Tomorrow’s Doctors is the cornerstone of this and is being linked with the work of the Leadership Alliance for Care of Dying People. Professor Vikram Jha, Head of the Undergraduate School at the University of Liverpool, discussed the wider context impacting on medical undergraduate education from the perspective of a Dean. His talk posed questions for the delegates to consider: How will we support the increasing number of generalists in providing coordinated whole-person care across care settings? How can we support safe education opportunities using technology enhanced learning like simulation? How do we use these opportunities to include patients and carers in the learning experience and provide the evidenced-based education for life-long evidence based practice?

The workshops and presentations of the meeting built on the work last year by focussing on themes of teaching methods and research methods in undergraduate medical education,  addressing a number of the challenges raised by Professor Jha. Numerous examples of novel practice and innovation were highlighted.  i-Phone apps have been developed at the University of Leeds for students to both support learning and facilitate preparation for exams. The University of Manchester hold facilitated sessions – and coffee breaks – with patients, carers and other members of the multi-disciplinary healthcare team. A website to provide the opportunity of a standardised experience, given clinical variability in short attachments has been developed at Peninsula Medical School. The University of Cambridge incorporates reflection in GP and hospital attachments at the beginning and end of training, examining end-of-life care issues.  Advanced communication skills training is integrated in a 4 week palliative care attachment for students at the University of Liverpool. The University of Sussex innovatively employs a “Speed Dating” format as a vehicle for students to learn how to source information from the MDT and plan for patient discharge.

Following lunch, and prior to the afternoon presentations, Professor Frank Elsner from the University of Aachen provided a brief overview of the work undertaken by the European Association of Palliative Care’s Steering Group for Medical Education and Training.  He introduced two colleagues, Professor Carlos Centeno and Professor Adrianna Turriziani.  Professor Centeno discussed the development of the EAPC Atlas of Palliative Care, which documents the provision of palliative care and teaching across Europe .  Professor Turriziani discussed the teaching provided to Undergraduates at the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Rome, and importantly highlighted the development of a national law n.38/2010 to ensure the provision of palliative care across Italy.

Following the EAPC overview, the afternoon session explored research methodologies, including the levels of education provided by UK medical schools, to the merits of qualitative and quantitative approaches on the effects of training.  Subsequently, methodologies and resultant data were discussed in a number of presentations on the challenges learning to care for the dying, understanding the administration of opioids and the effects of attitudes towards death on professional development. From the range of presentations and work conducted, a growing body of work is developing mechanisms with which the effects of training can be examined.

Care, compassion and communication are the hallmarks of excellent palliative care and being increasingly demanded of all health care. It is essential that the foundations for this are built into undergraduate training. The SIF is working to support this across the country by bringing together the work and ideas in each medical school and further developments will be shared in the coming year.

Presentations at the Annual Conference 2014

Presentation 1 - Dr Jason Ward

Presentation 2 - Dr Iain Lawrie

Presentation 3 - Dr Sarah Forrest

Presentation 4 - Dr Colin Giam

Presentation 5 - Anita Roberts

Presentation 6 - Dr Andreas Hiersche 

Presentation 8 - Dr Jose Miguel Carrasco

Presentation 9 - Dr Stephen Mason

Presentation 10 - Dr Jon Tomas and Dr Charles Davis

Presentation 11 - Dr Clare Rayment

Presentation 12 - Dr Stephen Barclay

Presentation 13 - Professor Carlos Centeno

Presentation 14 - Professor Adriana Turriziana