improving palliative care education for our future doctors.

Pasemeco is a national project with the aim to improve palliative care education for Dutch medical students by developing and evaluating a program for palliative care in medical education. It started in 2016 and is funded by ZonMw, a Dutch organisation for health research and development. All eight universities in the Netherlands that offer undergraduate medical curricula have committed to this project. 

The need for palliative care is increasing due to the expanding aging population and the growing number of people with chronic diseases such as cancer, heart failure, COPD and dementia. To be able to deliver quality palliative care to those patients, future doctors need to be educated accordingly. 

The program 

Although every medical student and doctor will be in contact with patients in the palliative phase, within health care institutions or at home, teaching and learning about palliative care in undergraduate curricula is fragmented and suboptimal. The Pasemeco project aims to have a direct impact on the medical undergraduate education in the Netherlands by developing education on palliative care in a design based research project. We use existing successful projects on palliative care education, adapt them when needed, and we create new educational material. We implement both existing and new material in the current and future medical curricula in the Netherlands. To this end, we are developing and evaluating a multi-purpose toolbox offering an integrated programme with authentic learning for palliative care. The Pasemeco project consists of three phases: 

  1. Analysis/inventory: in this phase we identified which palliative care-related competencies students need to acquire during their bachelor’s and master’s phases. We described these in a list of entrustable professional activities (EPA’s). Furthermore, we have made an assessment of the existing palliative care education in the various curricula and identified the topics on which more education is required (2016-2017).
  2. Collection: we now collect the main elements of the Pasemeco toolbox based on current instructional design theories focusing on professionally relevant tasks in palliative care. The toolbox will be based on the four component instructional design model of Van Merriënboer and will consist of existing and newly developed material (2017-2019).
  3. Implementation, evaluation and assessment: in this phase we will implement elements of the toolbox in different medical curricula in the Netherlands and will evaluate and assess its impact (2019-2020). 


The meaning of the esperanto word PASEMECO is Transience.

It also is an acronym for 

Palliative care 



Educational tools for 

MEdical student 

COmpetencies development.

All eight medical schools in the Netherlands have signed an intention letter to participate in this project and have been involved in the first two phases of the project. Likewise, at the end of the project the toolbox and materials will be available to all medical schools in the Netherlands.

Project team

Franca Warmenhoven, MD

Judith Westen, physician

Jolien Pieters, master neuropsychology,  PHD student

Danielle Verstegen, educational expert

Annemie Courtens, nurse, expert palliative care

Diana Dolmans, education professor 

Marieke van den Beuken, palliative care professor, MD  internal medicine,  expert palliative care


Read more

For more on Zon MW, read here