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Emergency physicians play an important role in providing care at the end-of-life as well as identifying patients who may benefit from a palliative approach. Several studies have shown that emergency medicine (EM) residents desire further training in palliative care. We performed a national cross-sectional survey of EM program directors. Our primary objective was to describe the number of Canadian postgraduate EM training programs with palliative and end-of-life care curricula.
A 15-question survey in English and French was sent by email to all program directors of both the Canadian College of Family Physicians emergency medicine (CCFP(EM)) and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada emergency medicine (RCPSC-EM) postgraduate training programs countrywide using FluidSurveys™ with a modified Dillman approach.
We received a total of 26 responses from the 36 (response rate = 72.2%) EM postgraduate programs in Canada. Ten out of 26 (38.5%) programs had a structured educational program pertaining to palliative and end-of-life care. Lectures or seminars were the exclusive choice to teach content. Clinical palliative medicine rotations were mandatory in one out of 26 (3.8%) programs. The top two barriers to implementation of palliative and end-of-life care curricula were lack of time (84.6%) and curriculum development concerns (80.8%).
Palliative and end-of-life care training within EM has been identified as an area of need. This cross-sectional survey demonstrates that a minority of Canadian EM programs have palliative and end-of-life care curricula. It will be important for all EM training programs, RCPSC-EM and CCFP(EM), in Canada, to develop an agreed upon set of competencies and to structure their curricula around them.