Adolescent and Young Adult Palliative Care at the UFHealth Streetlight Program: Impacts on Pre-medical and Pre-healthcare Professionals (Published 2015)
Apr 06, 2016
Ana Puig, Emi Lenes, Monika Ardelt, Jean Theurer, Jasmine Brooke Ulmer, Angela Calderon and Louis A Ritz
Clinical and research literature in medical education indicates a dearth of opportunities to adequately and competently prepare pre-medical and pre-healthcare professionals to attend to the needs of dying patients. This study explores the outcomes of an innovative palliative care program.
Clinical and research literature in medical education indicates a dearth of opportunities to adequately and competently prepare young pre-medical and pre-healthcare professionals to attend to the needs of dying patients, especially youths and their families. This study aimed to explore outcomes of an innovative palliative care program on 142 past and present pre-medical and pre-healthcare student volunteers. Results of the mixed-methods study indicate that the Streetlight program significantly impacted these student volunteers’ sense of empathy, compassion, and comfort in attending to dying adolescents and young adults. Qualitative themes included the following: leadership vision, investment among members, member characteristics, relationship with self, learning about others, learning about professions, learning about the healthcare system, spirituality, appreciation for life, and emotional connections. Given the apparent lessons reported by the past and present student members who participated in the study, the Streetlight program may be a viable model for introducing pre-medical and pre-healthcare students to compassionate palliative care.
Although this was a very long paper and quite difficult to read, I enjoyed reading it and enjoyed reading about this programme- I am not convinced that it is a novel way since I feel that there are several similar programmes throughout the world.My initial confusion was related to my misunderstanding that it was about helping young and adolescent relatives cope with death and dying.
I feel others can learn from this in designing their programmes and learn how to carry out an early evaluation on their programme. I am not surprised however with the results. I was rather unsure why the authors added a quantitative element to their evaluation, surely the qualitative element was enough?
I was a little unsure of how long students stayed in this programme, but like many of these programmes, the true evaluation needs to focus on how the student participants take this into their future professional careers- hence I look forward to reading a later paper that describes this.
Thank you for acknowledging that you read and enjoyed our paper, Trevor. We appreciated your comment on how others can learn from Streetlight in designing their programs and conducting early evaluation and that the qualitative element was comprehensive enough to be sufficient; however, we feel the survey provided valuable information about the students’ learning about palliative care. Although many people might agree with you, there are a number of positivist scientists who prefer the quantitative approach and would give more credibility to the study because of the mixed methodology. While we are aware of many programs providing palliative care to patients; we believe Streetlight model is unique in its focus on the developmental needs of adolescents. Although our focus was the student volunteers’ experiences, you are correct in your initial assumption that the Streetlight program has helped many adolescents, young adults, and their loved ones cope with death and dying (anecdotal evidence was plentiful, in our experience). The program requires a minimum commitment of two years. Many student members stayed in the program from 3 to 4 years. Finally, in the course of interviewing past volunteers (now 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year-medical students), we learned about their appreciation of the experience and their commitment to “take this into their future professional careers.” Some are making plans to replicate the program in their future hospital homes; a promising outcome.