Link: Palliative Medicine Resources on the Internet

Palliative Medicine

Medical School Elective MED-880;
Residency Elective

Medical students at UB have the opportunity to take a month-long elective in palliative medicine during their fourth year. During the rotation the student will spend time in a variety of settings, including hospital consultation services and hospice home care. Students also take part in the Extended Standardized Patient Scenario (ESPS) a unique educational experience using standardized (simulated) patients to recreate complex decision making near the end of life.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the rotation, the resident/student will:


  1. be able to propose and defend comfort care for patients when cure is no longer a rational goal.
  2. understand palliative care as good medical practice consistent with traditional medical values and goals in appropriate patients.
  3. honor medical decisions that are guided by the philosophy and values of the patient.
  4. be able to describe the multiple determinants of suffering: physical, psychological, social and spiritual.
  5. understand the importance of determining and conveying prognostic information in end of life care.
  6. understand the importance of the physician maintaining a continuous relationship with dying patients.
  7. understand the physicianís role in an interdisciplinary team, particularly in a hospice setting.


  1. be able to evaluate and treat symptoms common in terminally ill patients including:
  2. understand the neuroanatomy and physiology of different pain mechanisms.
  3. be familiar with the pharmacology of common analgesics, particularly opioids.
  4. understand the pathogenesis of non-pain symptoms in terminally ill patients.
  5. be familiar with the anorexia-cachexia syndrome and its implications for treatment.
  6. be familiar with and conversant in the published literature regarding medically provided hydration and nutrition in terminally ill patients.
  7. know the essential features of insurance coverage for palliative care, particularly the Medicare Hospice Benefit.


  1. be comfortable collaborating with the interdisciplinary team.
  2. be able to communicate effectively and compassionately with patient and caregivers with particular attention to:
  3. be able to appropriately evaluate patients using standard history and physical examination skills regarding pain and other distressing symptoms.
  4. be capable of evaluating such symptoms with the least invasive and intrusive testing modalities necessary for appropriate treatment.

Bibliography and Resources


Extended Standardized Patient Scenario Student Instructions, medical records, and EBM Resources.

Palliative Medicine Resources on the Internet

For more information, contact Dr. Jack Freer, 871-1571,

This page was last updated 02/09/13.