New Death and Dying Series for Professionals Concludes

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) completed its first Death and Dying Series for Healthcare Professionals on November 2. This pilot program was inspired by the popular Death and Dying Fellowship for graduate students but was explicitly tailored to meet the needs of healthcare professionals in practice.

The series attracted 24 professionals from various disciplines within the healthcare field and enabled participants to confront and discuss the legal, medical, social, cultural, familial, and spiritual aspects of death and dying during a seven-session program held via Zoom.

The series finale culminated with an opportunity for participants to practice serious illness conversations in small breakout groups. Participants engaged in case-based role-play involving POLST conversations and ethics scenarios. The virtual format provided a supportive environment in which to explore the challenge associated with having these types of conversations within their professional practice. Breakout sessions were facilitated by experts in the field, including Nancy Zionts, MBA, JHF chief operating officer and chief program officer; Judy Black, MD, MHA, JHF medical advisor; Emily Jaffe, MD, MBA, vice president and executive medical director, Enterprise Palliative Care Strategy, and Implementation at Highmark Health; and Kalpana Char, MD, associate vice president, Special Needs Program Medical Services at UPMC Health Plan. Facilitators provided feedback regarding elements of the conversations that were effective and provided suggestions for how to improve and enhance their conversation skillset.

After completion of the case-based role play, participants and facilitators reconvened to discuss the challenges posed by these types of conversations. Participants reflected on how this series will impact their professional work moving forward and noted that specifically asking for permission to discuss the patient's prognosis will be an essential tool to add to their serious illness conversation toolbox in the future. As one participant noted, "This was one of the best continuing ed-type programs I've ever attended in terms of depth and breadth of content and applicability of material to my practice. I would highly recommend to any colleague in family practice."

Applications are now being accepted for the 2023 JHF Death and Dying Fellowship for graduate students, which begins in January. For more information and to apply visit here. The application deadline is December 12.

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