Training the Workforce: Description of a Longitudinal Interdisciplinary Education and Mentoring Program in Palliative Care
CONTEXT: The rapid increase in demand for palliative care (PC) services has led to concerns regarding workforce shortages and threats to the resiliency of PC teams. OBJECTIVES: To describe the development, implementation, and evaluation of a regional interdisciplinary training program in PC. METHODS: Thirty nurse and physician fellows representing 22 health systems across the Chicago region participated in a two-year PC training program. The curriculum was delivered through multiple conferences, self-directed e-learning, and individualized mentoring by expert local faculty (mentors). Fellows shadowed mentors’ clinical practices and received guidance on designing, implementing, and evaluating a practice improvement project to address gaps in PC at their institutions. RESULTS: Enduring, interdisciplinary relationships were built at all levels across health care organizations.Fellows made significant increases in knowledge and self-reported confidence in adult and pediatric PC and program development skills and frequency performing these skills. Fellows and mentors reported high satisfaction with the educational program. CONCLUSION: This interdisciplinary PC training model addressed local workforce issues by increasing the number of clinicians capable of providing PC. Unique features include individualized longitudinal mentoring, interdisciplinary education, on-site project implementation, and local network building. Future research will address the impact of the addition of social work and chaplain trainees to the program.
Note: this article was mentioned in the October 2017 ACPE Research Network Article of the Month.