Need for End-of-Life Medical Training in the U.S.
Only eight of 122 medical schools surveyed currently offer palliative/emotional/spiritual training as mandatory
With a one hundred percent mortality rate, American medical and nursing programs are catching on to the need for mandatory palliative, emotional and spiritual course work for the next generation of doctors and nurses. Until recently, the focus has been solely in reproductive medicine versus essential terminal care training from a more holistic orientation. Four- to-six week rotations in obstetric and pediatrics are common place for third- year medical students, however, terminal care rotations within hospices, nursing homes and hospitals are practically non-existent. With our U.S. demographics shifting to a more aging and dying population, this more holistic approach to terminal care training is a long overdue positive improvement.
In research for my book, Soul Service: A Hospice Guide to the Emotional andSpiritual Care for the Dying (Balboa Press, 2013), we contacted 122 medical schools and 34 of the top 50 U.S. News listed nursing schools to obtain information regarding coursework training in the areas of palliative, emotional and spiritual care to the dying. Only eight of the medical schools and none of the nursing schools contacted had mandatory coursework in those areas of study.Only 16 of those schools offered elective coursework in those areas.
Medical schools that are currently offering mandatory coursework in palliative,emotional and spiritual care to the dying include:
1. Stanford University
2. John Hopkins University
3. Mayo Clinic
4. University of South Carolina
5. Texas A & M Health Science Center
6. Eastern Virginia
7. Keck School of Medicine of Southern California
8. David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Medical schools requiring mandatory training will provide their graduates with a more comprehensive approach in caring for their dying patients. With a huge shift in demographics to an older U.S. population, training such as this provides invaluable knowledge for those who will be caring for our dying population in the future. Through incorporation of mandatory coursework in palliative,emotional and spiritual care and rotations with the terminally ill, our U.S.medical and nursing schools can be updated to a better level of service.
About Soul Service
Soul Service is a book that speaks to the medical professional, layperson, dying person and family member about treating the dying from a holistic perspective. It provides a detailed navigation to spiritual and complementary care as well as assists with the process of how to choose a hospice. Soul Service serves as a useful resource guide to the myriad of organizations that are currently available to assist with the dying process.