Background Breaking Bad News and having conversations at the end of life is an important skill needed for Foundation Doctors. Every year all our Foundation Year 1 (FY1) doctors undertake this teaching. Due to COVID-19 we quickly changed our traditional face-to face teaching day, to a virtual session. We wanted to understand if this virtual teaching was valuable for participants and what impact it may have on their clinical practice.
Methods During the academic year of 2020–2021 we conducted 6 virtual teaching sessions around end-of-life conversations, resuscitation decisions and breaking bad news. These sessions were undertaken by FY1 doctors. Each student completed an eLearning module then attended the teaching session. Teaching sessions involved mixed educational modalities including didactic sessions, role plays and group reflective discussions over the course of 1 day. Each session involved up to 20–25 participants per session. They only needed to attend 1 session over the year. Approximately 6–8 weeks later attendees were invited to fill in an evaluation to understand the impact of the teaching for them.
Results Approximately 120 FY1 doctors attended one of the 6 sessions from September 2020 to March 2021. 34 attendees completed the delayed evaluation. 62% found they were looking after dying patients weekly, with 30% having conversations with either patients or relatives about dying most weeks. 70% felt the virtual teaching had changed the way they had conversations with dying patients and their relatives. Examples included feeling empowered to start these conversations, how to pace the information given and the importance of using the word die in the conversation.
Conclusion This first year of doing these sessions virtually has been overall positive, with some significant clinical impact for these junior doctors. These challenging topics are still educationally impactful despite being taught virtually.
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