Palliative Care Education and Practice (PCEP)
Only 60% of hospitals have palliative care programs in the U.S. Palliative care has a workforce shortage of approximately 5,000-11,000 physicians to meet existing palliative care needs; this deficit is likely to increase. The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine states that, "students graduating from medical school today have very little, if any, training in the core precepts of pain and symptom management, communication skills, and care coordination for patients with serious or life-threatening illness." As a result, there is a substantial need to train clinicians in areas that are essential to palliative care.
The Harvard Medical School program in Palliative Care Education and Practice (PCEP) offers intensive learning experiences for physician and nurse educators who wish to become expert in the clinical practice and teaching of comprehensive, interdisciplinary palliative care, as well as gain expertise in leading and managing improvements in palliative care education and practice at their own institutions.
"I lack the words to describe the amazing experience I had at PCEP. This course provided me with the best learning experience that I've ever had. I repeatedly tell my colleagues about what I've learned, show them the materials I gathered, and I have started to use some of the teaching techniques I learned during the course. As a palliative care specialist and nurse trainer, I feel that I have reached the next level in my profession development where I can serve as a role model for my nursing team."
- Nicoleta Mitrea, Director of Nursing and Nursing Education Coordinator for the Palliative Care Nursing Education in Romania and in the Region Hospice Casa Sperantei, Brasov, Romania; PCEP Class 2010
The course is delivered in two parts: Part 1 consists of 8 days of intensive learning, followed by a 6-month interim during which participants work on an individual project and contribute to structured weekly email discussions of problematic, clinical, educational, and program development cases presented by other participants; Part 2 is 7 days of continued experiential learning and training focused on communication, teaching methods, teamwork, and leadership.
You may apply for either the adult track or the pediatric track. Adult and pediatric track participants attend joint sessions except where noted in the schedule. The pediatric track will highlight the unique aspects of pediatric palliative care.
Teaching is learner-centered and takes place in a variety of interactive formats including: small groups, large group discussions, demonstration interviews, and panel discussions. Participants have the opportunity to develop action plans for change at their institutions and to practice and receive feedback about their teaching and change strategies. Many opportunities for informal interchange will be available.
Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:
- teach the fundamentals of palliative care (evaluation of physical causes of distress, psychosocial and spiritual assessment, ethical and cultural issues, palliative care in geriatric and pediatric populations, depression, and bereavement);
- teach about communication at the end of life (understanding the experience of life-threatening illness, breaking bad news, communicating across cultural barriers, family meetings, and providing feedback to learners);
- manage challenges in palliative care education (principles of adult learning, understanding, learning styles, and new teaching methodologies);
- develop and promote clinical and educational programs in palliative care (assessing institutional structure and culture, evaluating readiness to change, dealing with resistance, developing and financing palliative care programs, and fundraising strategies);
- develop strategies to manage end-of-life pain and effectively communicate with patients and their families in end-of-life care; and
- describe appropriate assessment, monitoring, and documentation strategies to meet best practice standards and medico-legal requirements to support opioid prescribing.
Who Should Attend?
PCEP is designed for physician and nurse educators who wish to enhance their skills in clinical practice, teaching, and program development in palliative care and who have, or wish to develop, a leadership role at their institution. In addition hospital administrators, mental health workers, pharmacists, physician assistants, psychologists, and social workers are also encouraged to attend.
"Thank you for a truly transformative experience that I (and, clearly, many others) had through PCEP. Those were certainly the best two weeks of education (in the broadest sense of the word) I've ever had, which is saying a lot, given how many years I went to school."
-Robert Macauley, MD; Medical Director of Clinical Ethics, Fletcher Allen Health Care Pediatrician, PCEP Class of 2006
We are grateful to the Open Society Foundations' Project on Death in America and Jane Weingarten and the late Dr. Charles Weingarten for their long-term commitment to scholarship funding. Additional scholarship assistance, and support for our "patients-as-teachers" program, is provided by Partners HealthCare, Inc., the Jacqueline S. Alaimo Palliative Care Fund, the Jo Jo Fund, and the Y.C. Ho/Helen and Michael Chiang Foundation. The Good Samaritan, Inc. and The Kenneth B. Schwartz Center supported the development of the pediatric track.