Living With Life Threatening Illness Course
A few weeks before his death in 2006, former Center for Ethics in Health Care faculty member Miles J. Edwards, MD, was asked how he wanted to spend his remaining days. His simple answer was that he would like to continue teaching, and so he did. Drawing from his own final illness, he taught some of his most compelling lessons about patient care nearing the end of his life in the Living with Life Threatening Illness Course. The course was designed for first year medical students at Oregon Health & Science University. It gives students the opportunity to learn directly from patients and families what is like to deal with serious illness. Each student forms a meaning relationship by having multiple informal visits with the patient-teacher throughout the course.
Click here to view the course flyer.
The visits allow student to learn from people who are facing the physical, social, psychological, and spiritual issues of life-threatening illness, anticipated death, and bereavement. We often learn from students that the course had a major impact on their medical career as it prepares students to have difficult conversations.
"As a medical student, I am constantly focused on disease processes and molecular machinery of the body and it has been a wonderful experience to interact with my patient-teacher, as a full, complete person and not as an illness that I am learning about in class."
"I think this class was supposed to teach us how to be present with another person, to simply be with them and form a meaningful relationship at the end of their life, a time that feels mysterious and scary. I would say we accomplished that mission."
"My patient-teacher has given me the confidence to truly begin my journey as a physician."
"I've come a long way since the Living with Life Threatening Illness elective! Thank you to the lessons learned from the high ethical standards of the mentors I had along the way. I engaged in a very sick patient's wife in a conversation about end-of-life and his poor prognosis. I didn't know her well, but as we were talking, I felt the need to hold her hand in conversation. My patient-teacher taught me that human touch is not only okay, but welcomed and sometimes necessary. I grabbed her hand, and when I did, she let down tears and wanted a hug. It was a sweet moment and I thank you for teaching me."