Group Seeks to Strengthen End-of-Life Care Content in Medical Licensing Exams

Development of recommendations to incorporate end-of-life issues in the medical licensure exam

From 1998 to 2002, project staff at the National Board of Medical Examiners, Philadelphia, and expert consultants worked to strengthen the end-of-life care content in the medical licensing exams physicians must pass to practice medicine.

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

Key Results

  • The project accomplished the following:

    • In its initial meeting in September 1998, the End-of-Life Care Committee identified five domains of end-of-life care:
      • Pain and non-pain symptoms.
      • Communication skills.
      • Psycho-social issues.
      • Ethics.
      • Hospital care and community resources.
    • More than 500 exam questions pertaining to end-of-life were written and submitted for review; 333 were accepted.
    • In its February 2002 meeting to assess the project, the End-of-Life Committee concluded that end-of-life care topics were still inadequately covered in the licensing exams.