Death and Dying Fellowship Kicks Off
The Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF)'s 2023 Feinstein Fellowship on Death and Dying returned on January 23 with its first in-person session since 2020, held at the JHF offices in Downtown Pittsburgh. This year's fellowship welcomes 24 applicants who hail from 10 universities the Pittsburgh region and beyond and represent 11 academic disciplines, including medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, social work, public health, healthcare administration, and ethics.
Over the nine three-hour sessions this winter, participants will learn, confront, and discuss the legal, medical, social, cultural, familial, and spiritual aspects of death and dying and, most importantly, practice conversation skills within a multidisciplinary group in a low-pressure environment. This year, the fellowship will operate in a hybrid format, with some sessions being held via Zoom and the resumption of in-person visits to local facilities providing serious illness and end-of-life care.
During the kickoff, JHF President & CEO Dr. Karen Feinstein provided an overview of the Foundation and its operating arms as well as the priority initiatives of patient safety, workforce development, women's health, HIV/AIDS, and aging. She emphasized the role of activism in effecting change and inspired the fellows through her steadfast commitment to these causes.
JHF COO and Chief Program Officer Nancy Zionts and JHF Medical Advisor Dr. Judy Black shared background on JHF's robust aging agenda and commitment to end-of-life education, based around the Closure model. They delved into the history and current state of end-of-life care in America and the reasons why discussing end-of-life care is essential for providers as well as patients and families. Fellows had the opportunity to their perspectives on their vision of a "good death," why people do not always get what they say they want at the end of life, and the barriers that keep providers from discussing prognosis with patients.
Over the course of the fellowship, the core JHF faculty will be supplemented by healthcare and community leaders from a range of health care organizations and facilities who will share their experiences and skills with the fellows. The program culminates with an opportunity for the fellows to use the skills they have gained to practice end-of-life conversations in small groups facilitated by experts.