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Year 2020
November 2020

[Journal article] A Qualitative Study on the Experiences and Reflections of Junior Doctors During a Palliative Care Rotation: Perceptions of Challenges and Lessons Learnt

11 Nov 2020

Authors: Choo Hwee Poi, Hwee Sing Khoo, Yong Hwang Mervyn Koh, Allyn Yin Mei Hum

Published in: J Pain Symptom Manage. 2020 Sep;60(3):549-558.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2020.03.038

Summary points:

  • Junior doctors caring for dying patients during a palliative care rotation face internal conflicts and struggles which arise as a result of having differing expectations from their own pre-conceived notions of their roles as doctors.
  • These internal conflicts include trying to find a balance in maintaining a professional distance that would still establish the patient’s trust in the doctor, maintaining their professional roles as doctors and masking their real emotions, withholding and withdrawal of medical treatments and uncertainty in prognosticating death.
  • Mentoring and role modelling provided by palliative care physicians are important in helping junior doctors cope in the emotionally stressful environment of caring for the dying. Reframing their experience of death and reflection help junior doctors to find meaning in their work and to cope with patient deaths.

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