Sixth Annual Death and Dying Fellowship Begins

The new Death and Dying Fellowship kicked off in the QIT Center.

Everyone has preferences for how they'd like to be cared for in their final days, but too often those preferences are not taken into account because they are not discussed – not by patients, family or providers. According to a 2016 Kaiser Family Foundation poll, patients agree that having end-of-life conversations with their providers is important to them, and 92% feel comfortable doing so. However, only 11% actually report speaking with their provider.

This gap underscores the reality that most traditional education still does not train healthcare professionals to engage patients in tough conversations. The Jewish Healthcare Foundation and Health Careers Futures' Death and Dying Fellowship seeks to bridge this divide and allow participants to learn, confront, and discuss the legal, medical, social, cultural, familial, and spiritual aspects of death and dying.

This year's cohort of 33 fellows kicked off the eight-week program on January 27th at the QI2T Center. Participants include graduate students and healthcare professionals from six universities spanning a range of backgrounds, including medicine, nursing, public health, social work, pharmacy, counseling psychology, sociology, law, and healthcare ethics. The Fellowship is led by a core faculty of Judith Black, MD, MHA; Nicole Greer, RN, MPH, MPA, and Nancy Zionts, MBA, and it is supplemented by experts and partners from around the community. At the first session, fellows were introduced to the history of the program, which launched in 2015, and the long-running work of Closure, JHF's outreach, education, and advocacy initiative around end-of-life care.

Over the next several weeks, the Fellows will make site visits to JHF community partners to discuss important topics such as end-of-life decisions in the hospital and ICU setting, facing chronic disease with families and children, real conversations about loss and grief, the hospice perspective on end-of-life, and end-of-life in the long-term care setting. The final session will see the fellows return to the QI2T Center where they will put their newfound skills into practice and demonstrate their ability to conduct end-of-life conversations. 

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