We appreciate the interest of Drs Poel, olde Hartman, and van Weel in our recent article1 describing the deficiencies in palliative care education among general surgeons.
We absolutely agree that palliative care is important not only to surgeons, but primary health care providers as well. Furthermore, the interaction of diverse specialists (medical oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, social workers, etc.) and primary care physicians in a multidisciplinary approach to the terminal patient is beneficial owing to the expertise and experience of the various health care personnel. We applaud Drs Poel, olde Hartman, and van Weel for their development of a core curriculum in palliative care within a family medicine residency. We have recently established an inpatient, multidisciplinary palliative care team that allows residents from different specialties to gain the essential education and experience they need in palliative care medicine. As von Gunten et al2 have demonstrated, even a 4-week rotation on an inpatient palliative care consultation service is sufficient to increase knowledge about palliative medicine. The rotation that we have developed at the University of California Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, is available to surgical trainees on an elective basis to facilitate the education of surgeons in palliative care as well as foster cooperation among diverse specialties in the care of terminal patients with cancer.