Background Caring for patients and their families at the end of life is a core requirement of the GMC Outcomes for Graduates, as well as NES and NHS Scotland Guidance. However, recent surveys have suggested that medical students feel unprepared for discussing and dealing with issues around death and dying.
Aims To pilot a communication and practical skills session around end of life care to final year medical students assessing whether having a single, focused teaching session enabled them to feel more prepared for their future roles as junior doctors as highlighted by national policy.
Methods Two teaching workshops were run in Spring 2017 at the University of Dundee, each lasting 2.5 hours in total. The sessions included communication with relatives about end of life care and care after death, as well as practical stations on end of life care prescribing and death verification/certification. Following each workshop, students were asked to complete a short survey assessing how useful they found the session and whether they felt more prepared in caring for the dying following it.
Results A total of 47 students attended both sessions and 41 (87%) completed written feedback. All respondents agreed that the workshops helped them feel prepared to care for people who are dying and their relatives. Over 95% of students felt that both communication skills stations were fairly or extremely useful, and over 90% of students felt that the practical stations were fairly or extremely useful.
Conclusions Our feedback shows that final year medical students view teaching around end of life care as an important part of their learning experience and that it would be welcomed if included in their training. Following this, we have integrated this teaching session into the curriculum with plans to further develop it by exploring alternative resources both locally and nationally.