Death and Dying Fellows Put Learnings into Practice

Death and Dying fellows prepare to tour Family Hospice of UPMC and UPMC Canterbury Place.

 Since 2015, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation's (JHF's) Death & Dying Fellowship has endeavored to educate and inform the next generation of healthcare professionals on the nuances of communicating with patients and families experiencing serious illness and the end of life. On March 25, the fellowship concluded its 10th iteration with an opportunity to apply the learnings from the program in a role-play activity depicting serious illness conversations. Twenty-five fellows from a diverse range of backgrounds engaged with a multidisciplinary faculty of experts from the field throughout the nine-week experience.

This year's fellowship incorporated a mix of in-person sessions, site visits, and fully virtual sessions. Led by JHF staff Nancy Zionts, MBA, COO and chief program officer, Lisa George, MPH, CHES, program manager, and Maureen Saxon Gioia, MSHSA, BSN, RN, nurse project manager, the program included a visit to UPMC Children's Hospital, where they heard about the opportunities to support children and families dealing with serious illness, and a visit to Family Hospice of UPMC and UPMC Canterbury Place, where they heard from staff about caring for residents and patients at the end of life and the support they provide to families during serious illness and death. Virtual sessions focused on advance care planning conversations in the primary care setting; the role of the hospital ethics team during serious illness; POLST; the role of EMS at the end of life; conversations with community-dwelling older adults; the meaning behind requests for physician aid in dying; the nuances of end-of-life conversations in patients with cancer or end-stage renal disease; and grief, loss, and spirituality.

As the fellowship concluded, fellows reflected on their experience and how the learnings will impact their future work.

"The Death and Dying Fellowship has been an incredible experience," said fellow Molly Rosado, a master of science student in counseling psychology at Robert Morris University. "I now have amazing connections in the healthcare community, and I received an abundance of insight on how to effectively navigate conversations regarding end of life."

"The Death and Dying Fellowship deepened my scholarly understandings while also providing practical knowledge in caring for patients with terminal illnesses," commented Yuchen Zhang, a PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing.

Fellows and experts gather to debrief at the finale.

David Hage, MSW, PhD, noted, "The JHF Death & Dying Fellowship has advanced my knowledge of palliative care, hospice, and numerous beneficial supports for those facing severe illness and end-of-life. I highly recommend this fellowship to any healthcare professionals."

The program would not have been possible without the support of numerous valued partners, including the following: Janet Arida, PhD, senior grief and clinical services specialist and outreach and education coordinator, Highmark Caring Place; Robert Arnold, MD, Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, director, Institute for Doctor-Patient Communication, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and medical director, UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute; Theresa Brown, PhD, BSN, RN, nurse and author; Theresa Erin Bernhardt, BSN, RN, senior manager of clinical operations, Family Hospice; Kalpana Char, MD, associate vice president for Medical Services, Special Needs Plan, UPMC Health Plan; Ariel Clatty, PhD, medical ethics manager, UPMC Shadyside Hospital; Kelly Covone-Henning, palliative care administrator, UPMC Canterbury Place; Kelley Dooley, RN, unit manager, UPMC Canterbury Place; Annette Dye, DNP, CRNP, ACHPN, palliative care nurse practitioner, Heritage Valley Health System; Vaseffa Fennick, LCSW, behavioral health clinical manager, Highmark ECCM; Emily Fearon-Jones, MS, account executive, UPMC Home Healthcare & Family Hospice; Heather Fischetti, MSN, RN, IP-BC, staff development/infection control, UPMC Canterbury Place; Rev. Richard Freeman, Sr., MSPC, physician consultant, manager of Pastoral Care, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; Janet Adu Frimpong, RN, unit manager, UPMC Canterbury Place; Niharika Ganta, MD, medical director, Palliative Care Programs, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania & Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; Lucy Gilliam, RN, director of nursing, UPMC Canterbury Place; Nicole Greer, MPH, MPA, RN, management analyst III - quality improvement and accreditation coordinator, Fairfax County Health Department; Ruth Ann Guilinger, MD, hospitalist, Allegheny Health Network, and physician, LIFE Pittsburgh; Eric Horwith, MSW, LSW, regional manager of business development, UPMC Home Healthcare & Family Hospice, and adjunct professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work; Emily Jaffe, MD, MBA, VP and executive medical director, Enterprise Palliative Care Strategy and Implementation, Highmark Health; Matthew Koperwas, MD, geriatrician, Allegheny Health Network; Douglas F. Kupas, MD, FAEMS, EMS medical director, Geisinger EMS; Carol May, RN, MSN, MBA, CHPPN, director of Supportive Care, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; Jennifer Gonzalez McComb, MD, MPH, FACP, clinical associate professor, Department of Medicine, section chief, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, UPMC Shadyside Hospital; Joan McConahy, program coordinator, Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition; Heather Mikes, DO, medical director, Inpatient Palliative and Supportive Care, UPMC East and McKeesport Hospitals, and clinical assistant professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Scott Miller, MD, MA, chief medical officer, Family Hospice, and associate professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Anthony Morgan, admissions coordinator, UPMC Canterbury Place; Alison J. O'Donnell, DO, MPH, geriatrician, VA Pittsburgh; Natalie O'Loughlin, MS, chaplain, Magee-Womens Hospital; Fredric Price, MD, FACOG, FACS, MMM, retired chief of gynecologic oncology, Allegheny Health Network, and instructor, Physician Assistant Program, Chatham University; Charles Rhoads, MD, MBA, NHA, administrator, UPMC Canterbury Place; Maylena Riccardi, BSN, RN; clinical manager of inpatient hospice unit, Family Hospice; Michelle Roney, administrative supervisor, UPMC Canterbury Place; Tamara Sacks, MD, physician; Jane Schell, MD, assistant professor, Nephrology and Palliative Care, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC Health System, and section chief, Palliative Care & Medical Ethics, University of Pittsburgh; Ethan Silverman, MD, palliative and hospice physician, UPMC Presbyterian-Shadyside, and assistant professor of medicine and fellowship program director for Hospice and Palliative Medicine, University of Pittsburgh

The Death and Dying Series for Healthcare Professionals will kick off its third year of programming this fall, with sessions geared toward those practicing in the field and seeking to improve their serious illness communication skills. Information and registration will be available in late summer. 

PA Youth Advocacy Network and Partners Convene Tee...
Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative Welcomes Fou...

Related Posts

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to