Palliative Workforce Development and a Regional Training Program

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Abstract

Aims:

Our primary aims were to assess growth in the local hospital based workforce, changes in the composition of the workforce and use of an interdisciplinary team, and sources of support for palliative medicine teams in hospitals participating in a regional palliative training program in Chicago.

Methods:

PC program directors and administrators at 16 sites were sent an electronic survey on institutional and PC program characteristics such as: hospital type, number of beds, PC staffing composition, PC programs offered, start-up years, PC service utilization and sources of financial support for fiscal years 2012 and 2014.

Results:

The median number of consultations reported for existing programs in 2012 was 345 (IQR 109 – 2168) compared with 840 (IQR 320 – 4268) in 2014. At the same time there were small increases in the overall team size from a median of 3.2 full time equivalent positions (FTE) in 2012 to 3.3 FTE in 2013, with a median increase of 0.4 (IQR 0-1.0). Discharge to hospice was more common than deaths in the acute care setting in hospitals with palliative medicine teams that included both social workers and advanced practice nurses (p < .0001).

Conclusions:

Given the shortage of palliative medicine specialist providers more emphasis should be placed on training other clinicians to provide primary level palliative care while addressing the need to hire sufficient workforce to care for seriously ill patients.

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