St Clare Hospice in Essex has been officially designated as a University of Cambridge Teaching Hospice.
The role will involve the medical director Dr John Zeppetella, and deputy medical director Dr Qamar Abbas, regularly teaching at the University’s Clinical School as senior clinical tutors, as well as St Clare Hospice receiving Cambridge medical students on placements.
Explaining the Hospice’s role with the University of Cambridge Clinical School, Dr Abbas said:
“Our role as a teaching hospice, and as senior clinical tutors, involves teaching around 15 days per year at the Clinical School, which is located in Addenbrooke’s University Hospital, on a series of four topics throughout the year.
"Dr John Zeppetella and I teach on symptom management, care of the dying, ethical issues and bereavement issues. As a Teaching Hospice we will receive twelve University of Cambridge Medical Students on placement this year, as they finish their fifth year of studying and after their exams, so that they gain some clinical experience at the hospice before starting their careers.”
Commenting on the importance of teaching palliative care to all medical students and newly qualified doctors, Dr Abbas said:
"My view is that all doctors should have experience in palliative care, early on in their career. No matter what area they go on to specialise in, whether it is as a surgeon, a GP, or in cardiology, it is so important that they have experience in caring for those who are dying, and in how to speak to patients and their families about death.
"Patients and their families look to us, as their doctor, to be able to guide them and answer questions about death, often not knowing who else to ask about it. We need to be confident in speaking on this topic in a sensitive, kind and honest way – and it is so important to learn these skills and have experiences with those that are dying, very early on in your career.
"I genuinely believe it makes them better doctors – and better in many situations where they have to have difficult conversations, not purely around death and dying.”
The hospice will receive twelve medical students this year and expects to take even more in the coming years. In addition to these students, the hospice takes six newly qualified doctors each year on four month placements, and two doctors who are undertaking General Practitioner training on six month placements.
It is estimated that the hospice comes in to contact and teaches more than 100 newly qualified doctors and medical students each year.
For more information visit St Clare Hospice