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J Palliat Med. 2002 Oct;5(5):721-7.

Experience with hospice: reflections from third-year medical students.

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  • 1Center for Palliative Care, Department of Family Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, USA.


Nationally, there is a growing emphasis on experiential education and an interest in palliative care for health professionals. Hospice visits were added to the family medicine community rotation for third-year medical students to provide them with first-hand exposure to the hospice experience. Seven significant themes emerged from the students' reflection papers: (1) the value of hospice and the supportive role of the hospice team, (2) the value of empathy, (3) the distinction between acceptance and resignation, (4) the changing face of hope, (5) an understanding of death as a natural event, (6) the quality of family caregiving, and (7) the role of the physician in caring for the dying. The implications for medical education discussed include the value of home visits as a setting for experiences in palliative care and the effectiveness of narrative assignments for encouraging student reflection.

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