Brief Report| Volume 60, ISSUE 3, P602-612, September 2020

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Expanding the Interdisciplinary Palliative Medicine Workforce: A Longitudinal Education and Mentoring Program for Practicing Clinicians



      The disparity between gaps in workforce and availability of palliative care (PC) services is an increasing issue in health care. To meet the demand, team-based PC requires additional educational training for all clinicians caring for persons with serious illness.


      To describe the educational methodology and evaluation of an existing regional interdisciplinary PC training program that was expanded to include chaplain and social worker trainees.


      From 2015 to 2017, 26 social workers, chaplains, physicians, nurses, and advanced practice providers representing 22 health systems completed a two-year training program. The curriculum comprises biannual interdisciplinary conferences, individualized mentoring and clinical shadowing, self-directed e-learning, and profession-focused seminar series for social workers and chaplains. Site-specific practice improvement projects were developed to address gaps in PC at participating sites.


      PC and program development skills were self-assessed before and after training. Among 12 skills common to all disciplines, trainees reported significant increases in confidence across all 12 skills and significant increases in frequency of performing 11 of 12 skills. Qualitative evaluation identified a myriad of program strengths and challenges regarding the educational format, mentoring, and networking across disciplines.


      Teaching PC and program development knowledge and skills to an interdisciplinary regional cohort of practicing clinicians yielded improvements in clinical skills, implementation of practice change projects, and a sense of belonging to a supportive professional network.

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