A strategy for incorporating palliative care and end-of-life instruction into physician assistant education

Lisa C. Lanning, Bonnie A. Dadig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose: Physician assistant (PA) education has not historically taught end-of-life and palliative care in its curricula. While medical education has been reformed in the past 15 years to include palliative care, PA education lags behind. The Medical College of Georgia PA Program obtained a HRSA grant in 2009 to teach PA students about end-of-life issues and improve palliative education in the didactic and clinical years. Educational Strategies: Sparse published data exist for end-of-life/palliative education in PA programs. We built a Wiki Internet tool to help teach these concepts. We revised objectives in clinical medicine, emergency medicine, and surgery to improve instruction in end-of-life issues, including common symptom management. We extended the adult medicine clinical course from 4 weeks to 8 weeks to provide long-term care and hospice exposure. Students journaled their adult medicine experiences on the Palliative Care Wiki Discussion Forum. Student Experiences: Students who participated in the Wiki Discussion Forum reported better understanding of end-of-life issues for patients who were near death or actively dying. Students expressed that bedside instruction, small groups, and hospice home visits were valuable venues for learning about end-of-life care. Students recommended more frequent and specific instruction in pain management and requested more time in hospice and critical care. Students appreciated learning from other students' experiences through the Wiki Discussion Forum. Conclusions: PA programs should incorporate palliative care and end-of-life instruction into existing curricula. Pain management and treatment of common end-of-life symptoms should be emphasized. Structured clinical experiences in critical care, hospice, and long-term-care settings should be offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-46
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physician Assistant Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Medical Assisting and Transcription


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