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‘The nice thing about doctors is that you can sometimes get a day off school’: an action research study to bring lived experiences from children, parents and hospice staff into medical students’ preparation for practice

Journal title
BMJ supportive & palliative care
Publication year
2016
Author(s)
Spalding, J.; Yardley, S.
Pages
459-464
Volume
6
Number
4

Patient and public involvement in healthcare is important to ensure services meet their needs and priorities. Increasingly, patient experiences are being used to educate healthcare professionals. The potential contribution to medical education of children and parents using hospice services has not yet been fully explored. OBJECTIVES: (1) To explore perceptions of what medical students must learn to become ‘good doctors’ among children, parents and staff in a hospice. (2) To collaborate with children/parents and staff to develop educational materials based on their lived experiences for medical students. (3) To assess feasibility of student-led action research in a children’s hospice to develop research skills. METHODS: Prospective ethical approval received. Volunteer children (n=7), parents (n=5) and staff (n=6) were recruited from a children’s hospice. Data were generated in audio-recorded semistructured focus groups, individual interviews and/or activity workshops. Participants discussed what newly qualified doctors’ needed to care for children with life-limiting conditions. Audio data were transcribed and combined with visual data for thematic analysis. Findings were refined by participant feedback. This paper presents thematic findings and educational material created from the project. RESULTS: Thematic analysis identified six learning themes: (1) treat children as individuals; (2) act as a person before being a doctor; (3) interpersonal communication; (4) appreciate the clinical environment; (5) learn from children, parents and other staff; (6) how to be a doctor as part of a team. The student researcher successfully developed qualitative research skills, coproducing materials with participants for sharing learning derived from lived experiences. CONCLUSIONS: All participants were willing and able to make valuable contributions, and believed that this was a worthwhile use of time and effort. Further work is required to understand how best to integrate the experiences of children in hospices into medical education.

Research abstracts