Objectives: Despite growing mindfulness regarding the importance of advance care planning with terminally ill patients and families, many resident physicians remain uncomfortable and poorly trained for these discussions. To guide the development of future curricula, we assessed trainee attitudes, knowledge, perceived proficiency, and needs in providing quality end of life care.
Methods: A cross-sectional, self-administered survey-based study of internal medicine residents in the state of New Jersey. The survey was administered in February so that all participants had a minimum of 6 months of formal training.
Result: 83 residents participated in the study. The majority reported never caring for a dying patient as a medical student. 71.1% felt uncomfortable discussing advance care directives and a similar percentage felt uncomfortable leading a family meeting without attending supervision. Very few residents received any feedback regarding their competency in goal setting with ill patients.
Discussion: Young physicians are poorly trained to address the needs of an aging population with advanced comorbidities. Curricular changes are certainly needed to prepare physicians for the changing landscape of medicine, especially considering the growing shortage of geriatric and palliative care providers.