Medical students training for end-of-life-care ‘woeful’

By June 19, 2018 Recent News

Radio NZ News 18 June 2018
The palliative care sector is warning a crisis for New Zealand’s ageing population is imminent as not enough people are being trained in end-of-life care.

Ministry of Health data shows in the next 20 years the number of people dying will increase by 50 percent – or 45,000 each year and by 2068 that number will hit 55,000.

Palliative Medicine Specialist Rod MacLeod said students and junior doctors received a “woeful” amount of training.

“I think it’s fair to say that in New Zealand the students are only getting a few days out of their five or six year programme with direct exposure to palliative medicine specialists, and quite frankly that’s woeful.”

He said other specialities received a disproportionate amount of attention in the curriculum.

“Medical students have to learn all sorts of fascinating facts about liver or pancreas disease which they may never see in their life, but they don’t have enough exposure to death and dying which they certainly will see.”

Lis Latta oversees the palliative care module at Dunedin School of Medicine.

She said the palliative care workforce was ageing and while medical students got more training now than they did six years ago, it was still not enough to replace those who would soon retire.