Teaching and learning about death, dying, and bereavement should emphasize humanistic attitudes.
Teaching should address communication skills.
Students need to see physicians offering excellent medical care to dying people and their families, and finding meaning in their work.
Medical education should foster respect for patients’ personal values and an appreciation of cultural and spiritual diversity in approaching death and dying.
The teaching process itself should mirror the values to which physicians aspire in working with patients.
A comprehensive, integrated understanding of and approach to death, dying, and bereavement is enhanced when students are exposed to the perspectives of multiple disciplines working together.
Faculty should be taught how to teach about end-of-life care, including how to be mentors and to model ideal behaviors and skills.
Student competence in managing prototypical clinical settings related to death, dying, and bereavement should be evaluated.
Educational programs should be evaluated using state-of-the-art methods.
Additional resources will be required to implement these changes.
Few medical faculty, at either the undergraduate or the graduate level, are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about end-of-life care and therefore are not likely to be effective teachers. To compound this, there is little end-of-life care included in the grand rounds, teaching conferences, or journal clubs of traditional continuing medical education (CME) programs.
The end-of-life skills of interns and residents, who often act as role models for medical students in hospitals, may be lacking and should also be enhanced through special programs for house staff (Weissman et al., 1999).
More intense faculty development programs should be offered to improve communication, mentoring, and other teaching skills. Educators need ready access to end-of-life educational resource materials (e.g., handouts, pocket guides).