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Death Stud. 2007 Sep;31(8):713-26.

End-of-life and palliative care issues in medical and nursing schools in the United States.

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  • 1Department of Sociology and Anthropology, College of Charleston, 66 George Street, Charleston, SC 29424,


Medical and nursing schools in the United States have traditionally had a limited emphasis on end-of-life care. The present study is a comparison of these 2 professional programs' current offerings on death education. Data were gathered via a mailed survey from the 122 medical schools in 2005 and the 580 baccalaureate nursing programs in 2006. Return rates of 81% and 71%, respectively, were received. All medical schools and 99% of nursing schools reported offering something on death and dying, with over 90 % of students in these programs participating. The average number of hours offered in both professional programs is less than 15. Over 87% in both programs have offerings in palliative care. Whereas nursing programs rely almost solely on nurses for end-of-life course provisions, medical schools are more interdisciplinary by faculty. End-of-life issues are presented in both medical and nursing curricula, though on a limited basis. This emphasis exposes students to the issues, though not in an in-depth way.

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