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J Palliat Med. 2003 Jun;6(3):365-80.

An integrated biopsychosocial approach to palliative care training of medical students.

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  • 1Palliative Care Program, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.


In 1996 the University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, New York, began a major curricular reform called the Double Helix Curriculum, integrating basic science and clinical training over 4 years of medical school. This transition provided a unique opportunity to develop and implement a fully integrated, comprehensive palliative care curriculum. In this three-part paper, we will describe: (1) our process of finding curricular time, setting priorities, and deciding on pedagogical strategies; (2) an overview of how palliative care teaching was integrated into the general curriculum, including examples of different teaching opportunities; and (3) our evaluation process, and some ongoing challenges. Because palliative care is a core element in the care of all seriously ill patients, we chose to integrate our teaching into multiple courses over 4 years of undergraduate medical education, and not isolate it in a particular course. We view this report not as an ideal curriculum to be emulated in its entirety but as a work in progress that may be somewhat unique to our institution. We intend to illustrate a process of incremental curriculum building, and to generate some fresh teaching ideas from which palliative care educators can select depending on their own curricular needs and objectives.

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