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Palliative care teaching shapes medical undergraduate students’ professional development

a scoping review

Noguera, Antonioa,b; Robledano, Ramóna; Garralda, Eduardob

Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care: December 2018 - Volume 12 - Issue 4 - p 495–503
doi: 10.1097/SPC.0000000000000402
END OF LIFE MANAGEMENT: Edited by Gustavo De Simone and Bridget Johnston

Purpose of review The aim of this review is to understand how palliative care teaching (PCT) as a patient-centered learning model, influences medical undergraduate students’ professional development.

Recent findings To study PCT medical undergraduate students’ learning experiences, we have employed the medical teaching concept, ‘hidden curriculum,’ as a way of describing attitudes and behavior conveyed implicitly by palliative care educators. Fifteen studies were selected: ten of those studies used a qualitative approach; two are theoretical explanations of the topic explored, one guideline, one review and just one quantitative study, made up the review. Medical undergraduate students reported that after PCT, they felt they had acquired better attitudes for effective integration with the patient, such as empathy or holistic care; ethical principles, such as respect or humanization of their clinical practice; and commitment to an improvement in competences, such as self-awareness or self-esteem. They also reported improved behavior in effective integration with patients, such as communication, caring for patients’ families, and when addressing psychosocial, cultural and spiritual aspects; their commitment to improvement in competences, such as dealing with emotions and uncertainty; they learned team work as an effective way to interact within the health system; and to become more reliable, making themselves more available and dedicating enough time to each patient.

Summary PCT seems to be an effective way of fostering medical undergraduate students’ patient-centered professional development.

aFaculty of Medicine, University of Navarra

bATLANTES Research Programme, Institute for Culture and Society (ICS), University of Navarra; IdiSNA, Pamplona, Spain

Correspondence to Antonio Noguera, MD, PhD, Edificio Bibliotecas, Campus Universitario sn. 31009 Pamplona, Navarra, Spain. Tel. +34 948 425600; fax. +34 948 425636. e-mail:

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