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Overcoming the challenges of bedside teaching in the palliative care setting
  1. Dylan G Harris
  1. Correspondence to Dr Dylan G Harris, Department of Palliative Care, Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr Tydfil CF47 9DT, UK; dgharris{at}


Bedside teaching is the process of active learning in the presence of a patient and is one of the most traditional teaching techniques used in undergraduate medicine. Students and patients both appear to benefit from the experience of bedside teaching. However, bedside teaching with medical students and palliative care patients presents a number of challenges for the patient, the learner and the educator. Key considerations for bedside teaching in the palliative care context include: sensitivity to ‘protection’, of palliative care patients by colleagues in relation to their involvement in bedside teaching; consideration of the patient's carer/relative as they will often be present for prolonged periods at the bedside; a maximum of one or two students (not the ‘up to six’ traditionally used in this type of teaching); multiple short encounters with several patients as opposed to a longer encounter with one patient; and sensitivity to the potential impact of the session on the learner as undergraduate medical students and junior doctors may find that while worthwhile and rewarding, the teaching session is also personally emotionally challenging.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.