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Paving the way for universal medical student training in serious illness communication: the Massachusetts Medical Schools' Collaborative. BMC Med Educ 2022 Sep 01;22(1):654



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BACKGROUND: Patients with serious illness look to their clinicians for discussion and guidance on high-stakes treatment decisions, which are complex, emotional and value-laden. However, required training in serious illness communication is rare in U.S. medical schools, with efforts at curricular reform stymied by competing institutional demands, lack of resources and accreditation requirements. We describe an approach to building and scaling medical student training in serious illness communication through the creation of a statewide collaborative of medical schools.

METHODS: The Massachusetts Medical Schools' Collaborative is a first-of-its-kind group that promotes longitudinal, developmentally-based curricula in serious illness communication for all students. Convened externally by the Massachusetts Coalition for Serious Illness Care, the collaborative includes faculty, staff, and students from four medical schools.

RESULTS: The collaborative started with listening to member's perspectives and collectively developed core competencies in serious illness communication for implementation at each school. We share early lessons on the opportunities, challenges and sustainability of our statewide collective action to influence curricular reform, which can be replicated in other topic areas.

CONCLUSIONS: Our next steps include curriculum mapping, student focus groups and faculty development to guide successful and enduring implementation of the competencies to impact undergraduate medical education in Massachusetts and beyond.

Author List

Reidy JA, Clark MA, Berman HA, Chan SH, Gawande AA, Streid J, Vesel T, Young ME, Zehm A, Schaefer KG


April Zehm MD Associate Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Education, Medical, Undergraduate
Schools, Medical
Students, Medical