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This presentation will demonstrate the need and suggest activities for the professional development (PD) of medical school faculty who can embrace and role model end-of-life (EOL) care as integral to medicine. The concept of EOL care considers dying a normal process and aims to minimize the physical, psychosocial, and spiritual suffering of patient and family. It requires an empathetic and openly communicative physician as much as it does a knowledgeable one to be receptive to patient needs. Having focused upon the medical student, renewed efforts to educate the medical community should be directed toward the faculty charged with student learning. Although required for accreditation, curricular EOL learning is minimal within a majority of medical schools, minimizing student exposure to EOL learning and to the terminally ill patient. Faculty disinterest creates a hidden curriculum of negativity that impacts student attitudes. Creating faculty awareness of the problem and connecting the need for improvement becomes the impetus for faculty learning. Faculty PD will begin with a review of prevailing research on the gaps in EOL care and exit surveys of their schools' graduating students that reflect the faculty's impact on learning. Reflection on personal attitudes toward death and dying helps to reveal barriers that exist. Storytelling becomes a powerful way to illustrate issues and to objectify them for problem resolution. Vignettes, stories of personal experiences, death rounds, and small group discussion are a few of the modalities used to engage physicians in personal development. Opportunities that help physician faculty teach and role model excellent EOL care to future generations of physicians help to ensure the terminally ill experience a good death.
Michele M. Welkener
Primary Advisor's Department
Counselor Education and Human Services
Stander Symposium poster
Silverman, Nancy P., "Research exercise: Preparing Medical Faculty to Teach End-of-Life Care" (2013). Stander Symposium Posters. 345.