Context: A mandatory course in palliative care (PC) is organized for all final-year medical students at the University of Navarre. It consists of 24 lectures, 4 workshops, and 1 scheduled five hour clinical PC service experience at two different sites. In the 48 hours after the visit and related to the clinical experience, each student has to complete a 500-word reflective writing (RW) piece.
Objective: To investigate how a brief PC clinical experience helps equip the medical student.
Methods: Qualitative study of RW. Two researchers produced a content analysis of students¿ RW. They collaboratively developed themes and categories with a constant review of the classification tree and an exhaustive collection of quotes. Differences between services were analyzed (¿2).
Results: One hundred sixty-seven RW were analyzed from the 197 students on the course (response rate 85%). Six major themes emerged: All the students identified central aspects of PC work dynamics; students acquired specific PC knowledge (86%); the personal influence of the experience was reported (68%); students described how patients and their caregivers deal with the patients¿ illness (68%); students talked about the essence of PC and essential aspects of medicine (42%); students reported spontaneously having changed their assumptions about PC (15%); and they realized that the experience was relevant to all clinical practice. Categories such as teamwork, the expression of patients¿ and caregivers¿ feelings,