The Program offers primary and specialty level palliative care training programs to nurses, physicians, physician assistants, social workers and chaplains. It aims to build the interdisciplinary workforce in palliative and supportive care, increase access to supportive care, and improve quality of care.
National cancer organizations recommend starting primary palliative care at the time of diagnosis of a serious illness to assist patients with pain management, symptom management, stress, and anxiety, and continue care through survivorship and end of life. Depending on the hospital’s cancer registry, up to 70 percent of patients with a serious illness may have a cancer diagnosis.
“My biggest concern is the workforce shortage. There are only 320 funded Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician Fellowship Training positions in the whole country,” explained Stacie Levine, MD, FAAHPM, Co-director of the Coleman Palliative Medicine Training Program, and Chief of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center. “That is never going to be enough. So, the way to provide better access to primary palliative care for patients and families is through team building, education, and mentorship.”