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Loyola bioethics study finds medical students concerned about desensitization to dying patients
Date:12/31/2013

MAYWOOD, Ill. The imminent death of a patient is riddled with emotions for a patient and family as well as the medical team. A study based on the reflections of third-year Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine students is shedding light on the struggle physicians in training often face when trying to control their own emotions while not becoming desensitized to the needs of the dying patient and his or her family.

"Medical students are very aware they are undergoing a socialization process by which they become desensitized to the difficult things they see every day in the hospital. They realize this is necessary to control their emotions and focus on caring for the patients. On the other hand, they are very concerned about becoming insensitive to the spiritual, emotional and personal needs of the patient," said Mark Kuczewski, PhD, leader author and director of the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics.

The study published in the January issue of Academic Medicine, a peer-reviewed medical journal, focused on a randomized group of Loyola third-year medical students who were asked to write an essay reflecting on their personal experience as part of a team caring for a dying patient. The students were asked to think about patient care, communication, compassionate presence and personal/professional development.

The assignment was given two months into their clinical rotation and was to be completed five months later allowing the student to complete five of their required clerkships.

The essays were coded using a multistep process and content-analysis approach. A bioethicist, physician and medical school chaplain independently read and coded the essays looking for emerging themes. The team then met together to compare themes and resolve discrepancies. Four themes emerged from the 68 student responses: communication, compassionate presence, patient care and
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Contact: Evie Polsley
epolsley@lumc.edu
708-417-5100
Loyola University Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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