Defining palliative care competencies for undergraduate nurses and physicians in Colombia

Categories: Education.

The objective of the workshop was to define competencies for nurses and physicians in the undergraduate level in Colombia as part of the project called: ‘Transforming the System’.

This workshop is the first of others that are planned to take place in other countries in Latin America.

The facilitators and organizers of he workshop were Tania Pastrana (Technical University of Aachen, Germany), Liliana De Lima (IAHPC, USA) and Roberto Wenk (FEMEBA, Argentina).

Dr Emilio Herrera (New Health Foundation, Spain) contributed with the presentation of Lucy Project which seeks to implement palliative care services at all levels of care in the country and which complements the aim of the workshop.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines palliative care as an approach that seeks to improve the quality of life of patients and their families to address the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other physical, psychosocial and spiritual problems.

The workshop and its objective are particularly relevant at this time in Colombia, in light of the recent adoption of the palliative care law which establishes the obligation of health insurance companies, institutions and providers to take the necessary steps to ensure that patients with palliative care needs and their families have access to adequate care.

The law also requests that the Ministry of Education take steps to ensure that health professionals have the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to meet the needs of palliative care patients and their families.

During two days of work, issues related to physical, emotional, spiritual and social aspects of the lives of patients and their families were discussed.

The participants used group discussions and consensus to identify the competencies required for general practitioners and nurses. 

All participants agreed that the implementation of palliative care in undergraduate healthcare education is necessary to improve access to primary health care and to ensure proper management of patients who could benefit from palliative care.

Participants also undertook to help with disseminating, socializing and implementating the recommendations in their universities and institutions.

The workshop was made possible by support from the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC), thanks to a grant from Open Society Foundations and Atlantic Philanthropies.

Other organizations which offered support were the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the De Lima Bohmer Foundation from Cali.

The results and recommendations of the workshop will be presented in the near future and will be available to all faculties interested in incorporating the palliative care in their curricula.