Background Although palliative care teaching for undergraduate students in the UK is increasing, there remains considerable variation between medical schools. It is unclear how much opportunity there is for experiential learning from patient contact (Walker, S et al. 2016). End of life care is integrated throughout Keele Medical School’s spiral curriculum, but it has previously not been possible for all students to experience or even visit a hospice. A half-day placement at Douglas Macmillan Hospice, Stoke-on-Trent, during the third year elderly care attachment was piloted. Viability and student satisfaction were evaluated.
Method All third year medical students at Keele University attended a half-day placement at Douglas Macmillan Hospice in groups of up to six students. This included hospice orientation, observation of a nurse-doctor handover and syringe driver administration, and a patient interview in pairs followed by a de-brief. Students completed a feedback questionnaire including numerical rating scales and free text responses. Medical staff involved in organising the placement assessed the resource implications for the hospice in providing it.
Results 89 students attended. 81% completed a feedback questionnaire. 78% had never visited a hospice before. Numerical ratings for all aspects of the placement were high indicating that students valued the experience. The most frequent suggestion for improvement was a longer placement.
Conclusions The placement was highly valued by students but challenging to deliver due to the time needed from staff and the large number of students. The positive student feedback enabled funding to be secured to support the hospice to continue to provide the placement. Additionally, this academic year a palliative care seminar within the same elderly care attachment will explore end of life care in dementia. Further evaluation is needed to establish the effectiveness of the placement in influencing students’ learning and behaviour in end of life care.
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