Palliative Care Exposure in Internal Medicine Residency Education: A Survey of ACGME Internal Medicine Program Directors

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Abstract

As the baby boomer generation ages, the need for palliative care services will be paramount and yet training for palliative care physicians is currently inadequate to meet the current palliative care needs. Nonspecialty-trained physicians will need to supplement the gap between supply and demand. Yet, no uniform guidelines exist for the training of internal medicine residents in palliative care. To our knowledge, no systematic study has been performed to evaluate how internal medicine residencies currently integrate palliative care into their training. In this study, we surveyed 338 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education–accredited internal medicine program directors. We queried how palliative care was integrated into their training programs. The vast majority of respondents felt that palliative care training was “very important” (87.5%) and 75.9% of respondents offered some kind of palliative care rotation, often with a multidisciplinary approach. Moving forward, we are hopeful that the data provided from our survey will act as a launching point for more formal investigations into palliative care education for internal medicine residents. Concurrently, policy makers should aid in palliative care instruction by formalizing required palliative care training for internal medicine residents.

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