Learning about the limitations of medicine

Learning about the limitations of medicine - exploring barriers to effective learning.

Team Members :  Shaun Qureshi, Janet Skinner, Morwenna Wood


Background and Purpose: Medical schools must prepare new doctors for practice, including providing care for patients approaching end of life. Palliative medicine teaching has increased but does not address the knowledge and skills needed in recognising that a patient may not be cured and negotiating the transition towards end stage of disease. Newly qualified doctors must care for dying patients but are poorly prepared for this. This project hopes to illuminate what facilitates or hinders experiential learning in this area, in the hope that the findings may contribute to improved teaching and learning.

Aims: To identify and define dissonance between the requirements of clinical practice related to care for patients in transition towards dying stage and undergraduate preparation; To determine the knowledge, skills, attributes and emotional strengths needed; To explore the factors which either facilitate or provide barriers to effective learning and development needed for this area of practice.

Methodology: Semi-Structured Interviews - carried out with doctors in training during which experiences and perceptions of about patient care (and learning experiences) when medicine was limited in its capacity to cure will be explored;

Literature Review - to identify and review existing knowledge and synthesise understanding of a junior hospital doctor’s role in care for patients with life limiting disease who cannot be cured.

Dissemination: Findings will be disseminated both locally and externally, through publications and conferences. It is anticipated that themes identified from interviews and the findings from the literature will inform development of an educational interventions within the University.

Final Project Report

Download the final report (PDF)

Other Project Outcomes

A range of presentation slides are available:

12th Dec 2018 Pre-Seminar of 8th International Seminar of the Palliative Care Research Centre, Edinburgh, UK

17th Aug 2017  Preventing Overdiagnosis Conference, Quebec, Canada

21st June 2017  Association for the Study of Medical Education Annual Scientific Meeting, Exeter, UK

7th July 2016  Association for the Study of Medical Education Annual Scientific Meeting, Belfast, UK 

15th March 2018  Association for Palliative Medicine, Bournemouth, UK 

5th May 2017 Scottish Medical Education Conference, Edinburgh, UK 

19th Oct 2016  Medical  Research  Symposium for Doctors and Students in Training, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK