By nature, physicians are trained to cure, so a conversation letting a patient know their final days are nearing isn't always easy. But it's vital. That's why many medical schools, including the Texas A&M College of Medicine, are including palliative care within their curriculum.
The College of Medicine has been instructing students on palliative, or “end-of-life” care, the care patients receive for terminal conditions where the goal is to comfort and ease pain rather than to cure, for years. But with the help of students, the college now offers the chance to practice the doctor’s challenging role in such care: Delivering devastating news to patients and their loved ones, and telling patients what comes next when there is no curative path forward.
In the wake of a family crisis with her grandmother, Georgina De la Garza's family turned to her to assess the difficult decisions. Despite a few lectures on palliative care in her first year of medical school, De la Garza was unsure of how to handle such situations. The realization that there was much more for her to learn, for her sake and for the sake of her patients, guided her desire to assist in the development of new experiential training.