Saturday, November 27, 2010

Palliative and Hospice Care: A Growing Field

This is a guest post by Angelita Williams.

Palliative and Hospice Care: A Growing Field

Only two months ago, the New Yorker, a popular current events, culture, and arts magazine, ran an article entitled "Letting Go." The article outlines the need for a greater focus on palliative and hospice care and cites statistics indicating that there is an increased interest in such options among patients who are struggling with terminal illness. For those who are searching for career options outside the traditional hospital role, palliative and hospice care can serve as a rewarding alternative.

The New Yorker article makes a very clear case for the importance of palliative care. It states:

"People have concerns besides simply prolonging their lives. Surveys of patients with terminal illness find that their top priorities include, in addition to avoiding suffering, being with family, having the touch of others, being mentally aware, and not becoming a burden to others. Our system of technological medical care has utterly failed to meet these needs, and the cost of this failure is measured in far more than dollars. The hard question we face, then, is not how we can afford this system’s expense. It is how we can build a health-care system that will actually help dying patients achieve what’s most important to them at the end of their lives."

For those interested in alternative careers in medicine, palliative care is one area in which you can make a substantive difference. While more and more medical technology is being developed to prolong life, as the article notes, not enough is being done to enhance the quality of life of patients who are nearing their end. Palliative and hospice care goes beyond traditional careers in medicine in that more administrative options abound.

There are various factors that are involved in coming to terms with death for both families and patients. A recent article highlights these factors, which include "an interdisciplinary, team approach", "ethical decision-making that respects patients' autonomy and the role of family and legal surrogates", and "providing bereavement support for family", among other considerations. These diverse approaches demonstrate that those interested in careers in palliative care must possess strong interpersonal and management skills.

For more information on careers in palliative and hospice care, check out the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CACP) website. Under Job Openings, you can see the various options open for those who are looking for alternatives to traditional clinical jobs, ones that offer more interaction with patients and their families, and extend new opportunities that are desperately needed in an industry that at times can focus too much on cure and not enough on support and relief.

This guest post is contributed by Angelita Williams, who writes on the topics of college courses. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: angelita.williams7

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