Background Newly qualified doctors working within the Foundation Programme are expected to care for dying patients, however many feel inadequately prepared for this. Given recent changes to the outcomes expected of medical graduates and national guidance surrounding the care of dying patients, there is a need to evaluate how UK graduates feel their training has prepared them to care for these patients.
Research question What are Foundation doctors’ perspectives on how their UK undergraduate medical education has prepared them for caring for the dying?
To investigate how Foundation doctors feel their UK undergraduate medical education has prepared them for caring for the dying.
To consider how undergraduate medical training in caring for the dying may be improved, from the perspective of Foundation doctors.
Methodology Qualitative data was collected by means of semi-structured interviews with eight Foundation doctors who had experienced caring for dying patients since graduation. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data.
Results Six themes were identified: ‘The undergraduate course: what medical students are taught and what influences how they learn’; ‘the role of the clinical team’; ‘changing roles and practice’; ‘preparedness to care for dying patients’; ‘the culture that patients ‘get better’ and the realisation that they die’; ‘recommendations for undergraduate training’.
Discussion All participants identified areas relating to the care of dying patients that they did not feel well prepared for. This suggests that current undergraduate training is not preparing graduating doctors adequately for this role. The theme of preparedness to care for dying patients can be subdivided into knowledge-based preparedness and emotional preparedness. Meaningful clinical contact appears to be integral to increasing knowledge-based preparedness. It should be recognised that caring for dying patients is often emotive; training surrounding dealing with this is required in order to avoid emotional distress and burnout.
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