Teaching Medical Students About “The Conversation”: An Interactive Value-Based Advance Care Planning Session

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Abstract

Background:

Advance care planning (ACP) promotes care consistent with patient wishes. Medical education should teach how to initiate value-based ACP conversations.

Objective:

To develop and evaluate an ACP educational session to teach medical students a value-based ACP process and to encourage students to take personal ACP action steps.

Design:

Groups of third-year medical students participated in a 75-minute session using personal reflection and discussion framed by The Conversation Starter Kit. The Conversation Project is a free resource designed to help individuals and families express their wishes for end-of-life care.

Setting and Participants:

One hundred twenty-seven US third-year medical students participated in the session.

Measurements:

Student evaluations immediately after the session and 1 month later via electronic survey.

Results:

More than 90% of students positively evaluated the educational value of the session, including rating highly the opportunities to reflect on their own ACP and to use The Conversation Starter Kit. Many students (65%) reported prior ACP conversations. After the session, 73% reported plans to discuss ACP, 91% had thought about preferences for future medical care, and 39% had chosen a medical decision maker. Only a minority had completed an advance directive (14%) or talked with their health-care provider (1%). One month later, there was no evidence that the session increased students’ actions regarding these same ACP action steps.

Conclusion:

A value-based ACP educational session using The Conversation Starter Kit successfully engaged medical students in learning about ACP conversations, both professionally and personally. This session may help students initiate conversations for themselves and their patients.

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