Teaching in palliative medicine as assessed by graduating medical students
Background Palliative care is a basic skill of a physician, but only two medical schools in Finland (Helsinki and Tampere) have a curriculum and a chair in palliative medicine.
Methods Medical students graduating from the Finnish medical schools in 2018–2019 answered a questionnaire concerning teaching in palliative medicine.
Results Of the 502 respondents, 98% considered teaching in palliative medicine useful. The best covered area was pain management, while psychiatric symptoms and psychosocial support were the most poorly covered. More teaching in decision making and psychosocial aspects would have been welcomed. The respondents from the universities of Tampere and Helsinki rated the teaching in almost all areas of palliative medicine better compared to the respondents from other universities. About 80–90% of the students from Helsinki and Tampere remembered an encounter with a patient in end-of-life care, while this proportion was about one third in the other universities. A need for teaching in palliative medicine before the first assignments as a physician was emphasized.
Conclusions Students’ opinions on the teaching in palliative medicine differ between the universities in Finland. A national undergraduate curriculum in palliative medicine is needed.