Young Doctors Learn to Care for Dying Patients

Implementing palliative care education into medical school curricula in New York State

The New York Academy of Medicine integrated palliative care into the core curriculum of New York State's medical schools. The project developed in early 1999 in response to several state initiatives calling for improvement in end-of-life care and palliative care education.

Based on the results from a survey of New York medical schools, project staff created a non-prescriptive method for integrating palliative care content rather than the standardized curriculum they had originally planned.

During site visits, project staff worked with the schools' faculties to develop individual strategic plans. When the strategic plans revealed that faculty development was important to accomplishing the goals, the project staff also organized a faculty development conference, held on June 5, 2000.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Targeted End-of-Life Projects Initiative.

Key Results

  • In July 2001 a one-year review of the medical schools' progress on their strategic plans revealed that the schools had implemented or were actively pursuing 94.4 percent of their 71 stated goals. Plans ranged from full integration of palliative care content across the four years (initiated at nine schools) to small-scale, focused changes in individual classes. Goals they were pursuing included:

    • Changes in course content during the pre-clerkship and clerkship years.
    • Changes in electives and special programs.
    • Initiatives in faculty development.