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Interprofessional Educational Program

Our system of care should be interprofessional: physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains and other spiritual care providers all working together to provide spiritual and holistic care for our patients. Our culture needs to look at dying not as a medical problem, but as a natural part of life that can be meaningful and peaceful. The interprofessional care team, can jointly assist the dying person to come to peace in life's last moments. Christina M. Puchalski, MD, MS 1

With contract support from CT Dept. of Public Health and CT Cancer Partnership, we collaborated with Yale Schools of Nursing and the Divinity School and Yale New Haven Hospital Department of Social Services to develop and implement an interprofessional educational program. This on-going program teaches palliative care in an interprofessional format to medical, nursing, divinity and social work students and interns. We have created a blended curriculum with interactive computer based clinical cases which students will complete prior to participating in face to face workshops. While on their internal medicine, and emergency medicine clerkships, all third year medical students will complete three computer based modules each followed by a case conference:

  1. Pain Management - Emphasizes principles of pain management, non-pain symptom management, and end of life planning.
  2. Spiritual and Cultural Aspects of Palliative Care and the Interprofessional Team - Nursing, divinity, medical and social work students will focus on spiritual and cultural aspects of palliative care and the importance of interprofessional team approach in palliative care.
  3. Palliative Care in the Emergency Department

1 Puchalski, CM:Spirituality and End-of-Life Care: A Time for Listening and Caring; Journal for Palliative Medicince 2005; 5(2): 293.

Goals and Objectives

The goals and objectives for the interprofessional palliative care education program are for students training in nursing, medicine, physician associate, advanced practice nursing, social work and chaplaincy to:

  1. Improve knowledge of primary palliative care.
  2. Recognize and experience the contributions of all health care professionals and value of the interprofessional team in the care of patients (and their families) with serious illness.
  3. Identify the importance of addressing the spiritual and cultural needs of a patient with terminal illness and understand how to get these needs met.