Executive Director Association of Academic Physiatrists Owings Mills, Maryland, United States
Objectives: A basic palliative care (PC) skillset could enhance the ability of physiatrists to care for patients with serious illness and injury. However, there is no data describing whether and how physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) residency programs equip trainees with PC skills. The aims of this study were to characterize current PC education within PM&R residency programs and to quantify the prevalence of PC departments within hospitals that house PM&R programs.
Design: A survey was distributed electronically to PM&R residency program directors through a listserv in March/April 2020. Data was collected on availability, methodology, and content of PC education, as well as specialty of PC educators and availability of PC departments in hospitals with PM&R programs. Responses were recorded anonymously using REDCap software.
Results: Survey completion rate was 43.6% (38/87). 71% of respondents reported at least one form of PC education. Most common was required didactics only (44.7%), followed by required didactics plus elective clinical exposure (21%). A total of 68% of programs offered didactics: 0.5-2 hours/year (62%), 3-5 hours/year (35%), or 6-8 hours/year (4%). Teaching was performed by a combination of physiatrists and PC specialists (42%), PC specialists only (38.4%), or physiatrists only (15.3%). 95% of respondents reported a PC department within their institutions.
Conclusions: PC education is not uniformly provided across PM&R residency programs. Where PC education is provided, it is most commonly in the form of didactics only. While nearly all respondents identified a PC department within their institutions, only some PM&R programs include PC specialists as educators. These findings suggest that educating residency program leadership about the value of PC skills might be warranted, with opportunities for physiatry/PC collaboration highlighted. Present findings have stimulated the inception of a national task force to develop PC competencies for PM&R residents and promote shared educational expectations across programs.