ABSTRACT: Training the Workforce: Description of a Longitudinal Interdisciplinary Education and Mentoring Program in Palliative Care.
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.
To describe the development, implementation, and evaluation of a regional interdisciplinary training program in PC.
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 (PIP) to address gaps in PC at their institutions.
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.
This interdisciplinary PC training model addressed local workforce issues by increasing the number of clinicians capable of providing palliative care. 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.