Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study finds medical students concerned about becoming desensitized to dying patients

Date:
December 31, 2013
Source:
Loyola University Health System
Summary:
The imminent death of a patient is riddled with emotions for a patient and family as well as the medical team. A study based on the reflections of third-year medicine students is shedding light on the struggle physicians in training often face when trying to control their own emotions while not becoming desensitized to the needs of the dying patient and his or her family.

The imminent death of a patient is riddled with emotions for a patient and family as well as the medical team. A study based on the reflections of third-year Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine students is shedding light on the struggle physicians in training often face when trying to control their own emotions while not becoming desensitized to the needs of the dying patient and his or her family.

"Medical students are very aware they are undergoing a socialization process by which they become desensitized to the difficult things they see every day in the hospital. They realize this is necessary to control their emotions and focus on caring for the patients. On the other hand, they are very concerned about becoming insensitive to the spiritual, emotional and personal needs of the patient," said Mark Kuczewski, PhD, leader author and director of the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics.

The study published in the January issue of Academic Medicine, a peer-reviewed medical journal, focused on a randomized group of Loyola third-year medical students who were asked to write an essay reflecting on their personal experience as part of a team caring for a dying patient. The students were asked to think about patient care, communication, compassionate presence and personal/professional development. The assignment was given two months into their clinical rotation and was to be completed five months later allowing the student to complete five of their required clerkships.

The essays were coded using a multistep process and content-analysis approach. A bioethicist, physician and medical school chaplain independently read and coded the essays looking for emerging themes. The team then met together to compare themes and resolve discrepancies. Four themes emerged from the 68 student responses: communication, compassionate presence, patient care and personal and professional development.

The study found that conveying the prognosis of death to patients was understandably difficult -- but not just the manner in which it was conveyed, but also who conveyed it.

"Students observed how their teams delivered and explained the prognosis. Conversely they also wrote how teams avoided it," the study reported. "Students reported no matter how well a physician communicated a prognosis, families and individual family members absorbed and digested the information in their own manner and at their own pace."

The study also pointed out the importance of the medical team having a compassionate presence beyond routine medical interactions, such sharing interests, conveying affection or continuing to show interest in the patient after treatment had ended.

The study affirmed the importance of the medical care team understanding that a patient is body and soul, acknowledging there needs to be emotional and spiritual support for dying patients and their families.

"The students reported that some medical teams are very focused on the immediate medical problems. There is a fragmentation of medical care, such as teams rotating on and off service and patient transfers also that allows medical practitioners to avoid addressing the larger picture, death," Kuczewski said. This same fragmentation may cause practitioner to overlook patients' and families' needs for information and emotional and spiritual support.

The study determined that there is a need for emotional and spiritual support for the medical students and the health care team who are facing the loss of a patient as well.

"Though some students wrote that their team acknowledged in some way the death, others felt there was no closure. The team would move on to the next patient, leaving the student with unresolved feelings," said Kuczewski.

Finally, the study found that students struggled to avoid becoming desensitized to the human reality that their patients were experiencing while also learning to control their emotions.

"Students were aware they must temper their emotions to be patient-centered. Still, many were upset that increasingly they were ceasing to react emotionally to situations as they typically would have prior to their clinical experiences," said Kuczweski.

The study concluded that student reflections offer insights into the ways the spiritual needs of dying patients and their families are addressed in the hospital environment. Additionally, it is a glimpse into the personal and professional development of a person as they transition from layperson to physician and the need for medical schools to develop ways to support students during this transformation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Loyola University Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mark G. Kuczewski, Michael P. McCarthy, Aaron Michelfelder, Emily E. Anderson, Katherine Wasson, Lena Hatchett. “I Will Never Let That Be OK Again”. Academic Medicine, 2014; 89 (1): 54 DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000057

Cite This Page:

Loyola University Health System. "Study finds medical students concerned about becoming desensitized to dying patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131231122115.htm>.
Loyola University Health System. (2013, December 31). Study finds medical students concerned about becoming desensitized to dying patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131231122115.htm
Loyola University Health System. "Study finds medical students concerned about becoming desensitized to dying patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131231122115.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins