Teaching palliative care to critical care medicine trainees

Michael A. DeVita, Robert M. Arnold, David Barnard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Objectives: Palliative care is an important component of critical care medicine. Few fellowship programs have developed a curriculum designed to teach palliative care precepts to trainees. We describe our 2-yr experience in teaching palliative care to multidisciplinary critical care medicine fellows. Design: Two-consecutive-year palliative care training for unselected critical care medicine fellows at a large, urban, university, tertiary care medical center. Interventions: We 1) identified palliative care skills and knowledge that first-year critical care fellows should acquire; 2) developed a curriculum to teach those skills and knowledge, including required readings, small group lectures and skills sessions that included role-playing to modify skills and attitudes, and (in year 2) experiential learning on a hospital-based palliative care rotation; and 3) attempted to evaluate the curriculum with attitude and knowledge assessments. Results: A total of 35 fellows participated in the palliative care training during the 2 yrs reported. Seven fellows participated in a clinical rotation in palliative care. Fellows evaluated usefulness of the small group sessions between 4.4 and 4.9 on a 5-point Likert scale. Four of seven fellows rated the clinical rotation quality at 3/5. Pretest and posttest knowledge mean scores were 58% and 69%, respectively. Problems included providing time for fellows to participate in the clinical rotation and negative attitudes regarding the relevance of palliative care to their future in critical care. Conclusions: Palliative care training for critical care fellows is feasible. Fellows value skills training more than a clinical rotation in palliative care. Baseline knowledge of palliative care is low.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1257-1262
Number of pages6
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003


  • Critical care
  • Curriculum
  • End-of-life care
  • Interdisciplinary care
  • Palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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