Article Abstract

Perception of bedside teaching within the palliative care setting— views from patients, students and staff members

Authors: Ursula Kriesen, Attila Altiner, Brigitte Müller-Hilke


Background: Bedside teaching is an essential part of medical education. However, within the setting of palliative care at a university hospital, different needs and interests may collide. On the one hand students need to be prepared for the care for critically ill patients yet on the other, patients require particular tranquility and protection. An analysis of potential harm and benefits resulting from bedside teaching in palliative care is a crucial prerequisite for the organization of bedside teaching in this sensitive setting.
Methods: We performed a qualitative study researching the perception and challenges of bedside teaching on the palliative care ward at the Rostock University Medical Center. To that extent, elective courses "Intensive Practical Training in Palliative Care" were held during the summer and winter terms of 2016 and 2016/2017, respectively. Students and team members answered a self-developed questionnaire on the perception of bedside teaching on the palliative care ward. Patients were lead through semi structured interviews later analyzed according to the thematic framework approach.
Results: A group of 21 students in their clinical years, 20 patients and 19 members of the palliative care team participated in this study. The experience of working with patients in the palliative care setting was very valuable for almost all students. Most patients enjoyed the presence of students on the ward. However, some missed clear cutoff criteria for termination. Students mostly felt comfortable with palliative care patients and did not request professional help for coping with experienced aspects of dying and death. In contrast, members of the palliative care team though were concerned about patients’ safety and comfort and requested strict guidance of students during the course.
Conclusions: Bedside teaching within the palliative care setting classified a valuable tool for specialized palliative care skills. However, in order to protect the critically ill, students need structured guidance and strict behavioral instructions for presence at the bed side.