Valerie Schulz

The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

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Publications (6)13.12 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: CONTEXT: There is a growing call to integrate palliative care for patients with advanced heart failure (HF). However, the knowledge to inform integration efforts comes largely from the interviews with and survey researches on individual patients and providers. This work has been critically important in raising awareness on the need for integration, but it is insufficient to inform solutions that must be enacted not by isolated individuals but by complex care teams. Research methods are urgently required to support systematic exploration of the experiences of patients with HF, family caregivers, and health care providers as they interact as a care team. OBJECTIVES: To design a research methodology that can support systematic exploration of the experiences of patients with HF, caregivers, and health care providers as they interact as a care team. METHODS: This article describes in detail a methodology that we have piloted and are currently using in a multisite study of HF care teams. RESULTS: We describe three aspects of the methodology: the theoretical framework, an innovative sampling strategy, and an iterative system of data collection and analysis that incorporates four data sources and four analytical steps. CONCLUSION: We anticipate that this innovative methodology will support ground-breaking research in both HF care and other team settings in which palliative integration efforts are emerging for patients with advanced nonmalignant disease.
    Journal of pain and symptom management 09/2012; · 2.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Being comfortable with death and communicating with patients near the end of life are important attributes in palliative care. We developed a hospice volunteer program to teach these attitudes and skills to preclinical medical students. Using a mixed-methods approach, validated surveys measured participants' and non-participants fear of death and communication apprehension regarding dying. Journals and focus groups examined participants' subjective experiences as their patient relationships evolved. Survey scores were significantly lower for participant hospice volunteers, indicating lower levels of death anxiety and communication apprehension regarding dying. An explanatory framework, using journals and focus groups, captured participants' sense of development over time into three categories: challenges, learning, and growth. This pilot project provides insight into the medical students' experiential learning as they participate in our hospice volunteer program.
    Journal of palliative care 01/2012; 28(3):149-56. · 0.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The in-training evaluation report (ITER) is the most widely used approach to the evaluation of residents' clinical performance. Participants' attitudes toward the process may influence how they approach the task of resident evaluation. Whereas residents find ITERs most valuable when they perceive their supervisors to be engaged in the process, faculty attitudes have not yet been explored. The authors studied faculty supervisors' experiences and perceptions of the ITER process to gain insight into the factors that influence faculty engagement. Using a grounded theory approach, semistructured interviews were completed in 2008 with a purposive sample of 17 faculty involved in resident evaluation at one Canadian medical school. Constant comparative analysis for emergent themes was conducted. Three major themes emerged: (1) Faculty engagement was apparent, with a widely held view that ITERs were a worthwhile endeavor. (2) Fragmentation of the evaluation system compromised evaluators' ability to produce meaningful ITERs. Fragmentation appeared to be a system problem, elements of which included time constraints, inconsistency in approach to ITE, and lack of continuity between educational assignments. (3) Faculty found the challenge of giving negative feedback daunting and struggled to avoid harming residents. Faculty engagement in the ITER process may be compromised by both system and interpersonal challenges. These challenges may render ITERs less meaningful than faculty intend. Training programs must complement ITE with other tools to achieve robust systems of evaluation.
    Academic medicine: journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges 07/2010; 85(7):1157-62. · 2.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Despite the fact that Canadian residency programmes are required to assess trainees' performance within the context of the CanMEDS Roles Framework, there has been no inquiry into the potential relationship between residents' perceptions of the framework and their in-training assessments (ITA). Using data collected during the study of ITA, we explored residents' perceptions of these competencies. From May 2006-07, a purposive sample of 20 resident doctors from internal medicine, paediatrics, and surgery were interviewed about their ITA experiences. Data collection and analysis proceeded in an iterative fashion consistent with grounded theory. In April 2008, a summary of recurrent themes was presented during a focus group interview of another five residents to afford further elaboration and refinement of thematic findings. The in-training assessment report (ITAR) was perceived as a primary source of residents' information on CanMEDS. Residents' familiarity with the set of competencies appeared to be quite limited and they possessed narrow definitions of the roles. Several trainees questioned the framework's relevance and some appeared confused about the overlapping nature of the roles. Although residents viewed the central Medical Expert role as the most relevant and important competency, they incorrectly perceived it as only involving the acquisition of medical and scientific knowledge. A visual rhetorical analysis of a typical ITAR suggests that the visual features found within this assessment tool may be misrepresenting the framework and the centrality of the Medical Expert role. Resident doctors' knowledge of CanMEDS was found to be limited. The visual structure of the ITAR appears to be a factor in residents' apparent distortion of the CanMEDS construct from its original holistic philosophy.
    Medical Education 09/2009; 43(8):741-8. · 3.62 Impact Factor
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    Teneille E Gofton, Mandar S Jog, Valerie Schulz
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    ABSTRACT: This review assesses the current opinion towards early palliative care in neurology and discusses the existing evidence base. A comprehensive literature search resulted in 714 publications with 53 being directly relevant to the scope of this review. The current literature reflects primarily expert opinion and describes a growing interest in the early introduction of palliative principles into neurological care. Early initiation of palliative interventions has the potential to improve quality of life, enhance symptom management and assist in advance care planning. Further data is required to determine whether this shift in philosophy has a positive impact on patient care.
    The Canadian journal of neurological sciences. Le journal canadien des sciences neurologiques 06/2009; 36(3):296-302. · 1.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In-training evaluation reports (ITERs) often fall short of their goals of promoting resident learning and development. Efforts to address this problem through faculty development and assessment-instrument modification have been disappointing. The authors explored residents' experiences and perceptions of the ITER process to gain insight into why the process succeeds or fails. Using a grounded theory approach, semistructured interviews were conducted with 20 residents. Constant comparative analysis for emergent themes was conducted. All residents identified aspects of "engagement" in the ITER process as the dominant influence on the success of ITERs. Both external (evaluator-driven, such as evaluator credibility) and internal (resident-driven, such as self-assessment) influences on engagement were elaborated. When engagement was lacking, residents viewed the ITER process as inauthentic. Engagement is a critical factor to consider when seeking to improve ITER use. Our articulation of external and internal influences on engagement provides a starting point for targeted interventions.
    Academic medicine: journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges 10/2008; 83(10 Suppl):S97-100. · 2.34 Impact Factor