Give medical students more exposure to palliative care

While curative medicine and treatments are top priorities for the medical community, greater awareness and understanding can be placed on palliative medicine and hospice care.

There could be a better balance in the curriculum at medical schools, so that undergraduates have more training in palliative medicine.

The aim of palliative medicine is to alleviate and relieve the pain and suffering of patients, as well as to provide good psycho-social support. This is relevant to end-of-life care issues for patients whose medical conditions are deemed irreversible.

It is not only our ageing population that may need to receive palliative care.

There are also younger patients who, for instance, experience organ failures but are unable to get transplants, as the procedure is deemed life-threatening and unfavourable.

Medical intervention and aggressive treatment may be futile and may not improve patients' medical outcome or quality of life.

Consider exposing young medical undergraduates to the area of palliative medicine earlier, so that they can be interested in the human touch of caring for patients with serious end-of-life issues.

Palliative care is the answer.

It would be wise for the Education Ministry and Health Ministry to consider exposing young medical undergraduates to the area of palliative medicine earlier, so that they can be interested in the human touch of caring for patients with serious end-of-life issues.

This human element and the proper care of the seriously ill cannot be ignored by our community.

Ada Chan Siew Foen (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2016, with the headline 'Give medical students more exposure to palliative care'. Print Edition | Subscribe