Thursday, January 28, 2021

Fostering Student Interest in Palliative Care

by Christian Sinclair (@ctsinclair)

Most palliative care teams love to have medical students on service, but the access may be variable. Some schools make palliative care rotations mandatory, some optional, while others make it hard to find or "build your own." I do outpatient palliative care, so I see medical students less often than my inpatient colleagues, but we do get a number of nursing students, pharmacy residents, psychology learners rotating with our clinic at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Having learners rotate is an excellent way to teach primary palliative care skills, to help learners early in their career on the best ways to introduce palliative care, and maybe finding a few future colleagues.

So imagine my dismay on seeing this:



(Editor note: Sylvia Lane wrote more about her decision to choose palliative care for a career here.)

Or this tweet from from an AAHPM Poster Award winner:



Take a few deep breaths. Those two learners are going to be OK. After sharing those potentially demoralizing experiences, the #hapc (hospice and palliative care) Twitter community lifted them up, sharing supportive stories, potential comebacks for the next time they hear something like that, resouces like joining AAHPM, and networking with other learners or local mentors. Some even shared their own challenging retorts to pusuing a career in hospice and palliative care.

Are learners hearing this more often? What is the not-so-subtle message being conveyed about our work? What can we do to foster more interest in palliative care as a career and/or a skill set to build? What can we do about our colleagues who may be undermining great candidates for our field? I would love to hear your ideas. Because we need more people interested in working in palliative care and hospice as a career. (Editor's Note - that article was written for CAPC by one of the Twitter users above!)

If you are a learner who found this post, I am so glad you are interested. Here are some simple things for learners of all professions to get you started:

- Find your local academic palliative care faculty or academic hospice organization

- If you are on Twitter follow hashtags like #hapc or #palliativecare, and check out this list of some of the first people and orgs to follow in palliative care

- If you cannot find someone in your specialty, start with someone doing palliative care work in another specialty as a resource

- Find the national organization that represents your field and either does palliative care and hospice work or has a special interest group:

- - American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) - www.aahpm.org

- - Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA) - www.advancingexpertcare.org

- - Physician Assistants in Hospice and Palliative Medicine (PAHPM) - www.pahpm.org

- - Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) - www.swhpn.org

- - Society of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacists - www.palliativepharmacist.org

If you have some great ideas, please share them in comments below or share them with me on Twitter and I will add them to the original post.

*Both people gave permission to embed their posts here.

For more Pallimed posts about learners.
For more Pallimed posts by Dr. Sinclair click here.

Christian Sinclair, MD, FAAHPM, is a associate professor of palliative medicine at the Univeristy of Kansas Health System. He is editor-in-chief of Pallimed, and cannot wait to play board games in person again.

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