As a patient's life comes to an end, physicians and care providers are faced with the unique task of tending to the spiritual as well as medical needs of their patients. Yale physician Peter A. Selwyn, M.D., M.P.H., associate director of Yale's AIDS Program and associate professor of medicine, has dedicated a significant part of his career to improving end-of-life care for AIDS patients. In September, he was one of 12 physicians chosen to receive the Faculty Scholars Award from the Open Society Institute's Project on Death in America (PDIA), funded by the financier George Soros.
Dr. Selwyn will receive up to $65,000 for three years from PDIA, a nationwide program aimed at advancing medical education, awareness and clinical care in end-of-life care. Dr. Selwyn will use the award to help develop curricula at the School of Medicine on end-of-life care. He will also help develop a model clinical program at Leeway, a 30-bed skilled nursing facility for people with HIV and AIDS in New Haven, where he is medical director.
"Despite recent advances in therapy, the AIDS epidemic is still affecting people in the prime of their lives with a life-threatening illness," says Dr. Selwyn. "This grant will aid in the improvement and development of new strategies for end-of-life care and to help increase awareness about this often overlooked area of medicine for doctors in training."
Dr. Selwyn has chronicled his experiences in a book of memoirs entitled Surviving the Fall: The Personal Journey of an AIDS Doctor, to be published by Yale University Press this spring. The book explores the early days of the AIDS epidemic, when Dr. Selwyn worked at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, and focuses on the ways in which working with dying patients led him to come to terms with his own personal history of grief and loss.