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May 2014 Professional Newsletter – Executive Director’s Message

There is an old Chinese saying “May you live in interesting times”. Depending on who you talk to it is either a blessing or a curse. I believe it is a blessing. In “interesting times”, we have the opportunity to be agents of change and creators of a better future.

As I talk with leaders in palliative care, in hospice and in health care systems, the words I am hearing more and more are “culture change”. If palliative care is to achieve its potential … If palliative care is to be at the core of changing our health care system to one that is truly patient-centered, compassionate, respectful of the holistic needs of those with serious or chronic illness and those they love, we are talking about the need for concerted culture change.

Everyone in every care setting … hospital, home, clinic and long term care facility … needs to understand what palliative care is and have, as part of their skillset, the basic skills of palliative care. And, they need to know when to get the experts involved.

Chinese Symbol of Change Palliative Care

This is systemic culture change of the highest order. While it sounds difficult, it is not so much difficult as courageous.

Dr. William Bridges in his well-known books on change1 helps us understand that change of this order requires us to be more than we are today.

It requires us to articulate a new vision of the future, face the confusion and pain that lies between today and new realities, and move forward in the face of uncertainty, growing our skills, trusting our instincts and being willing to be leaders when the path isn’t always clear.

At the CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care, we strive to live up to this challenge in all that we do. Our vision is a world in which everyone with a serious or chronic illness has access to great palliative care, delivered by knowledgeable professionals, in whatever setting they need it.

In pursuit of this vision, we are now working to expand our work to other CSU campuses, including CSU Los Angeles, Fresno State and San Francisco State University… and through our online programs, to everyone who needs new or renewed skills.

What is YOUR vision for palliative care? Whatever it is, we are here to help you get the skills you need to face the uncertainty, to create the future of health care and to care for not only for those with serious illness, but also for those you work with and for yourself.

Take a look at our new offerings, think about that course that you have held off taking and enroll today! And if you have ideas for more ways we can help … drop me a note and let me know! Together, we will create a better future … and achieve our vision!


Helen McNeal's signature

Helen McNeal
Executive Director

1 Transitions, Managing Transitions, The Way of Transitions