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Medical undergraduate palliative care education (UPCE)
  1. Des McMahon1 and
  2. Bee Wee2
  1. 1 Academic Department of Palliative Medicine, Our Lady's Hospice and Care Services, Dublin, Ireland
  2. 2 Palliative Medicine, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Des McMahon, Academic Department of Palliative Medicine, Our Lady's Hospice and Care Services, Dublin D6W RY72, Ireland; Des.McMahon{at}

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As interns, new doctors care for the dying or others who have palliative care (PC) needs.1 Undergraduate medical students need to learn about PC.2 Up to half of newly qualified doctors are underprepared for end of life issues and many feel it is a source of distress.3 4 Medical students value palliative education5 but many feel training is deficient.6 7

Undergraduate palliative care education (UPCE) for medical students shows wide variation throughout Europe and internationally.8 In 2015, PC was compulsory in only 14% of countries; only 30% of European medical schools taught PC.9 Medical curricula did not include PC in 14 countries (33%).

In the UK, the General Medical Council requires that newly qualified doctors: ‘Contribute to the care of patients and their families at the end of life, including management of symptoms, practical issues of law and certification, and effective communication and team working.’10

Current UPCE-related literature gives guidance on effective delivery of PC education for medical students (box 1).

Box 1

Effective Delivery of PC Education for Medical Students.

Palliative care education for medical students should:

  • Be …

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  • Contributors DM carried out the relevant literature review and wrote the first draft of this article. BW contributed to the design of the work and to revising it critically for important intellectual content. Both authors agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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