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Best Palliative Care Moments for Health Care Professionals

Former students share moments that made a big impact

Editor’s note: We recently asked former Institute students to share their “best palliative care moments,” and how our training has made a difference in their lives and the lives of their patients. In honor of Giving Day on Tuesday, Nov. 28, we’re highlighting some of their responses, and hoping you’ll support our continued good work by donating here!

Giving is a way of life for health professionals who work with patients facing serious illness, but so are the blessings that come with it.

Dr. Marcus RobertsFor Marcus Roberts, MD, MRO, the words of a grateful patient reminded him how much community-based palliative care can mean to someone with a life-limiting illness.

“My best palliative care moment, as a physician, was when I made a home visit and the patient said ‘I must be special for the doctor to come to my house to see me.’ ”

Roberts said “CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care training has helped me in understanding the ins and outs of setting up a palliative care program, and discussing end-of-life issues with patients.”

The advance care planning revolution

Other providers say the best palliative care moments are happening now, in part because patients are finally being placed at the center of their own healthcare decisions.

Lizbeth Drury-Zemke, RN, said growing acceptance and implementation of advance care planning has been a game-changer for patients and providers. When advance care planning takes place, patient goals inform treatment decisions, allowing patients and families to focus on what’s important to them.

“I’ve been an RN for 46 years and currently work with amputees and veterans over 65,” said Drury-Zemke. “My best palliative care experience is now, in that the (advance care planning) discussions are happening.”

Drury-Zemke said she and her colleagues are noticing among more patients and families “that advance planning has taken place, and that people are aware of choices in end of life care… It is becoming day-to-day conversation.”

She said the education she received through the CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care “helped me so I am more knowledgeable about POLST and can better promote it to patients.”

Using palliative care skills to help loved ones

Judith Jenness, RN, who completed the Institute’s RN Certificate in Palliative Care course, said she’s learned that her palliative care training not only benefits patients, but has helped her better support friends and family experiencing serious illness.

“My best palliative care moment is the one I am dealing with in my personal life right now, with a friend who is 3,000 miles away,” Jenness said. “I’m able to use my knowledge and my understanding of palliative care to help her as she works with her elderly mom, who failing and being admitted to hospital. It’s a difficult family dynamic, but I can advocate for asking for help from the hospital hospice team, and the hospital ethics team if need be.

“Using my experiences and my learning to help friends in need is actually incredibly meaningful,” Jenness said. “I need not only use this learning professionally, but as part of my entire life. Palliative care in my world, is something that is integral to compassionate and holistic care of humans, be it in hospital, or home care or personal life.”

How you can help

Help us create more “palliative care moments” by donating now to the CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care, which is dedicated to expanding access to palliative care in all settings, across the country and around the world.

Your gift will further the Institute’s mission to educate health professionals in palliative care, creating more life-changing moments for patients and families experiencing serious illness.

For more about our programs and offerings, see our course catalog.

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