Monday, December 22, 2014

Free Continuing Education Credit for Palliative Care Topics (aka MJHS Palliative Webinar Series)

by Russell K. Portenoy, MD

(Sometimes a simple idea comes along and while revolutionary, you sit there thinking, why didn't I do that? Many organizations and academic departments have great content experts, probably lecturing to learners every week. But who among us have consistently made these available for free online, in addition to providing free CE credits. We all have access to those tools, but someone did it first and with a year long commitment to teaching. Pallimed asked Dr. Russell Portenoy to explain the origins of a simple yet innovative project, the MJHS palliative care webinar series. Maybe we could see this replicated in other places? - Ed.)

I am grateful to Christian Sinclair for the opportunity to write about the decision to create a new webinar series for those interested in palliative care and to structure in a way that, hopefully, ensures broad access. The back story begins with a decision I made recently to leave the hospital setting, where I had worked for 30 years, to assume a clinical and academic role in a corporation is solely focused on community-based care. MJHS is a large health system in New York, and I had been working part-time for several years in one of its units—MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care. The latter organization maintains a large hospice program and several cutting-edge, community-based palliative care programs.

In 2014, the MJHS corporate board made a strong commitment to grow high quality hospice and palliative care programs, and concurrently decided to create a new not-for-profit entity that would pursue academic initiatives in palliative care, including inter-professional training programs, clinical research, and quality management. In mid-June, I became the first Executive Director of the new MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care and assumed a full-time role as Chief Medical Officer of MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care. Almost immediately, I was joined in the Institute by 10 doctoral level professionals, including experts in education and instructional design, research, and quality.

We have hit the ground running, and are particularly pleased with the decision to create a new online inter-professional webinar series as one of our first projects. Underwritten by a small grant, the series will show 21 live webinars during the first year, approximately one broadcast every two weeks. The topics are relevant to the entire interdisciplinary team.

The first five presentations, all presented by the faculty of the MJHS Institute, included “Palliative Care: Changing the Health System Through Emerging Models”, “Caregiver Distress and Burden”, “Opioid Therapy in the Medically Ill: Principles of Administration”, “Grief and Bereavement”, “Prognostication I”, and "Prognostication II"  The next live webinar is Tuesday December 23, 2014 from 12:30pm-1:15pm ET on "Drug Therapy for Neuropathic Pain in the Medically Ill." You can see a full list of past and future topics along with slide decks to download on the Institute website.

After each presentation, the webinars are posted online for one year, and both the live and archived webinars will provide continuing education credits to physicians, nurses and social workers. There is no charge for attendance at the live webinar or access to an archived installment. The creation of high-quality education with a low barrier to entry is consistent with the mission of the new MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care. Through our email reminders to potential attendees,  we have started building our own community (contact us at to get on the email list). We are looking forward to many more contributions and collaborations of this type.

Russell Portenoy, MD is the Executive Director of the MJHS Institute for Innovation in Palliative Care, and the CMO of MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care. He is also a professor of Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and editor of the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.

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