Implementing a key competency in Physician Assistant palliative care education: simulated pain assessment
Lajoie, Samuel Robert
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Palliative care has become an integral part of healthcare throughout the United States. The goals of this discipline are focused on improving patient quality of life during times of illness. These goals are universal throughout medicine and apply to all practicing providers. An interdisciplinary council developed core competencies for this discipline which includes pain assessment and management as a key component. Throughout healthcare, the assessment and management of pain continues to be a challenge for providers. A review of the literature has demonstrated that untreated pain has become an increasing burden on the patient population. Many providers feel training during their medical education is insufficient and they entered the workforce unprepared. An evaluation of current standards put forth by educational governing bodies has shown the regulations regarding palliative care, pain assessment in particular, to be scattered and non-specific. It is apparent a more concise curriculum, dedicated to palliative care and pain assessment is needed for all future medical providers to hone the essential tools needed to properly evaluate and treat pain. The proposed intervention consists of an educational module which combines a didactic session and student role playing module focused on pain assessment. This intervention will focus on Physician Assistant students in particular, as this profession will continue to play a large role in healthcare. Didactic sessions focused on pain assessment, a core competency of palliative care, will be presented to the students. A role playing exercise following these didactics will allow students to practice such pain assessment skills and also explore what it may be like to be a patient in pain and provide them with insight on the importance of adequately assessing related symptoms. The current model of education regarding palliative care has proven to be ineffective, especially regarding pain assessment. A more concise, dedicated module for this essential skill is needed for students to become more efficient, effective providers. With the ability to assess patients more effectively, providers will be able to manage patients’ pain and decrease the burden untreated pain has put on the population as a whole.