Education of patients

From Oncology for Medical Students
Ideal oncology curriculum > Education of patients

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Objective 6.3

At graduation, the student should be able to:

a) demonstrate an understanding of the principles of educating patients to be actively involved in their care
b) demonstrate an understanding of resources available to patients and the public (e.g. Cancer Councils, cancer support groups, books, brochures, internet, Medline, search engines, clinical alerts, databases, chatlines, commercial helpdesks, media, family, friends etc) and the limitations of these (i.e. peer reviewed journals vs popular press)
c) discuss the doctor's role in patient education about self-examination and worrying signs
d) promote preventive medicine and appropriate early detection practices and encourage patients to educate others about these aspects
e) develop a partnership approach to cancer care and information acquisition (e.g. willingness to learn from all sources including patients)
f) demonstrate an understanding of the benefits to ongoing patient education and care that result from utilising a multidisciplinary team including health professionals and others
g) demonstrate ability to provide patient education relating to general effects of cancer treatment (symptom management and recognition of symptoms that require medical review).

Prerequisite knowledge

  • Information technology skills
  • Introduction to screening of populations and case-finding in individuals
  • Patient-centred communication skills


Representative question that suggests the required depth of knowledge

1. Briefly outline how you would educate a patient concerning the six most common cancers (in Australia or New Zealand) supposing he/she had recently been diagnosed with each type of cancer. Describe the types of resources available to patients giving some examples of the strengths and weaknesses of each. Given that a metachronous second primary cancer is not uncommon (7-10% lifetime risk), demonstrate your ability to educate a patient on preventive measures and screening methods.

Essential in answer:

  • Knowledge of the most common types of cancer in Australia or NZ
  • Knowledge of what resources exist
  • Knowledge of benefits/limitations of resources
  • Knowledge of preventive health care and screening
  • Demonstration of a partnership approach to patient care