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New Program Targets Major Healthcare Workforce Gap

Patients Needing Palliative Care Far Outstrip Number of Trained Providers

March 5, 2018 (SAN DIEGO) – A serious workforce gap in palliative medicine that prevents vulnerable patients from accessing needed care has spurred a new education initiative launched by the California State University Shiley Institute for Palliative Care.

The initiative, Primary Palliative Care Skills, is a comprehensive online curriculum that equips family physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other providers to utilize basic palliative care principles in caring for patients with serious or life-limiting disease. Palliative care is a whole person approach to care focused on supporting patient choices, managing pain and psychosocial distress and improving quality of life, with or without curative treatment.

The need for primary palliative care providers is becoming critical. A 2014 report by the Center to Advance Palliative Care found there’s only one physician trained in specialty palliative medicine for every 1,200 persons living with serious illness. That patient population of roughly 90 million is expected to double over the next 25 years (CAPC, 2014).

Recognizing that the gap between patients needing palliative care and specialty-trained clinicians will only grow, Primary Palliative Care Skills was developed to give primary care providers and non-palliative specialists a core set of effective palliative care skills. Shaped by national leaders in primary and palliative medicine and authored by experts in the field, it is presented in an online, self-paced format designed with busy providers in mind.

“This curriculum allows all physicians caring for patients with serious illness to expand their level of comfort and efficiency with some of the most important parts of care—symptom management and communication around difficult topics,” said Mike Rabow, MD, Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine, at UC San Francisco, and a member of the Institute’s Curricular Task Force. “All of us need to be able to do the basics and without wasting any time or effort.”

These nine courses can be purchased as an entire series, or in thematic bundles. Topics covered include advance care planning, communication skills, pain and symptom management, self-care and resilience, care at the end of life, and psychosocial, spiritual and cultural aspects of care.

For more information visit or call 760-750-4006.

About the CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care

The CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care leverages the strength of the California State University system to expand access to and awareness of palliative care by educating current and future health care professionals. The Institute is charged with positively impacting the critical shortage of nurses, physicians, social workers, and spiritual-care providers trained in palliative care, using a groundbreaking educational model that emphasizes a whole-person, patient-centered approach aimed at improving quality of life for people with serious or life-limiting illness.

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