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Physician Assisted Living: Medical Educators' Perspectives

GERALD N. BURROW, M.D.

     I feel that it is essential that physicians in training and medical students learn that there is much more to medical care than technology. Hospice lives and breathes unique concerns for human aspects of life and death, and in the months ahead, we will work to find new ways to introduce our trainees to them.
Robert H. Gifford, M.D.

Associate Dean for Education and Student Affairs
Yale School of Medicine

     Medical students in general lack education in the process of dying. Technology is available to delay death, but not to prolong meaningful life. Physicians are not sufficiently aware of the opportunities to make the last stages of life more comfortable. Medical students need to have the educational opportunity to learn about these terminal stages.

     The Yale School of Public Health is directing a research project on a palliative care and hospice educational program to be developed and delivered by the Hospice Institute for Education, Training and Research, Inc. in Branford. This has the potential for generating significant interest in the milieu of "end-of-life care." If the results of this educational intervention are positive, it should be replicated throughout the state.

     Physician Assisted Living is in its infancy. Interestingly, though, we all knew about it intuitively but never assigned a name to it. We now have the ability, even the calling, to build upon PAL and the educational program to expand it for the medical profession and our medical schools throughout this country.

Gerald N. Burrow, M.D.
Dean Emeritus and
Special Advisor to the President for Health Affairs
Yale University School of Medicine

 

MARGARET JOHNSON BIA, M.D.

     A noted thinker once said that "What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us, but what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal."

     Physician Assisted Living provides a message of hope that is durable and doesn't respect time.

     I have the perspective of a medical educator introduc-ing medical students and residents in training to the subtleties of care when cure of the disease seems no longer possible.

     What has been missing is an overarching theory or tool that allows us safe passage into the world of our patients using universal language.

     Physician Assisted Living is an instrument designed to help the medical professional communicate with patients about their needs. The Physician Assisted Living concept creates a means for each patient, through collaboration with the physician, to view the broadest possible array of care options. Physician Assisted Living becomes the master story, the construct, the framework or set of principles that helps relate to a particular patient's unique set of circumstances: a map of the patient's world at any stage of care.

     I have observed the caring of The Connecticut Hospice's Interdisciplinary Team approach since its inception. Not surprising then, that this concept, Physician Assisted Living (PAL), was birthed through the energy of will and commitment of soul demonstrated therein.

     For medical students, residents in training, and practitioners, the challenge is to care for the whole patient—not just treat their diseases. Total care involves a seamless path between life and death—both processes of equal importance. PAL is a way that allows physicians to care for patients with this perspective—preserving dignity, hope, and caring for the needs of the whole patient.

Margaret Johnson Bia, M.D.
Professor of Medicine
Yale University School of Medicine

 


The Hospice Institute for Education, Training and Research, Inc.
100 Double Beach Road
Branford, CT 06405