Original Research - Special Collection: Pain Management and Palliative Care

Position paper on undergraduate Palliative Medicine education for doctors in South Africa

Henriette Burger, Rene Krause, Charmaine Blanchard, Julia Ambler, Linda Ganca, Alan Barnard, Michelle Meiring, Mpho Ratshikana-Moloko, Hanneke Brits, Tracey Brand, Mitchell Scott, Langalibalele Mabuza, Martin Bac, Nozuko Zele-Mqonci, Parimalaranie Yogeswaran, Liz Gwyther
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 14, No 1 | a3202 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v14i1.3202 | © 2022 Henriette Burger, Rene Krause, Charmaine Blanchard, Julia Ambler, Linda Ganca, Alan Barnard, Michelle Meiring, Mpho Ratshikana-Moloko, Hanneke Brits, Tracey Brand, Mitchell Scott, Langalibalele Mabuza, Martin Bac, Nozuko Zele-Mqonci, Parimalaranie Yogeswa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 August 2021 | Published: 07 July 2022

About the author(s)

Henriette Burger, Division of Radiation Oncology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa; and, Division of Radiation Oncology, Tygerberg Academic Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa
Rene Krause, Division of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Charmaine Blanchard, Centre for Palliative Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; and, Non-Communicable Diseases Research Unit, WITS Health Consortium, Johannesburg, South Africa
Julia Ambler, Department of Paediatrics, School of Clinical Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; and, Umduduzi Hospice Care for Children, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Linda Ganca, Division of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Alan Barnard, Division of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Michelle Meiring, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; and, Paedspal, Cape Town, South Africa
Mpho Ratshikana-Moloko, Centre for Palliative Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; and, Non-Communicable Diseases Research Unit, WITS Health Consortium, South Africa
Hanneke Brits, Division of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Tracey Brand, Umduduzi Hospice Care for Children, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Mitchell Scott, Department of Family Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Langalibalele Mabuza, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Ga-Rankuwa, South Africa
Martin Bac, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Nozuko Zele-Mqonci, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Steve Biko Academic Hospital, Tshwane, South Africa
Parimalaranie Yogeswaran, Department of Family Medicine and Rural Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa
Liz Gwyther, Division of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Basic palliative care teaching should be included in training curricula for health care providers (HCPs) at all levels of the health service to ensure that the goal set by the South African (SA) National Policy Framework and Strategy for Palliative Care, to have an adequate number of appropriately trained HCPs in South Africa, is achieved. Furthermore, palliative learning objectives for nurses and doctors should be standardised. Many SA medical schools have integrated elements of Palliative Medicine (PM) teaching into undergraduate medical training programmes for doctors; however, the degree of integration varies widely, and consensus and standardisation of the content, structure and delivery of such PM training programmes are not yet a reality.

Aim: This joint position paper aims to describe the current state of undergraduate medical PM teaching in South Africa and define the PM competencies required for an SA generalist doctor.

Setting: Palliative Medicine programme leads and teachers from eight medical schools in South Africa.

Methods: A survey exploring the structure, organisation and content of the respective medical undergraduate PM programmes was distributed to PM programme leads and teachers.

Results: Responses were received from seven medical schools. Through a process of iterative review, competencies were defined and further grouped according to suitability for the pre-clinical and clinical components of the curriculum.

Conclusion: Through mapping out these competencies in a spiralled medical curriculum, the authors hope to provide guidance to medical curriculum designers to effectively integrate PM teaching and learning into current curricula in line with the goals of the SA National Policy Framework and Strategy on Palliative Care (NPFSPC).


Keywords

Palliative Medicine; palliative care; curriculum design; education; health professions education; learning outcome; competencies

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