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Interdisciplinary education seeks to improve palliative care
Date:2/22/2013

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A unique curriculum at the University of Louisville is preparing medical, nursing, social work and pastoral care students to work together on interdisciplinary teams, so patients can receive better care when facing a serious illness.

The program, interdisciplinary curriculum for oncology palliative education (iCOPE), piloted in Fall 2012, and is teaching students to distinguish the roles and contributions of each team member; equipping them to initiate an interdisciplinary collaboration; and helping them to formulate a patient care plan that addresses psycho-social-spiritual and physical needs. The curriculum is mandatory for nursing students, master's level social work students specializing in oncology social work and clinical pastoral care trainees. It will be required for medical students starting in Fall 2013.

Alyssa Compton, a UofL School of Nursing alumna, works as a registered nurse on the neuroscience intensive care unit at University of Louisville Hospital (ULH). She was part of the first iCOPE class.

"iCOPE helped me understand how each discipline thinks in response to a patient's condition. I saw how important this team is to families who see their loved one from a holistic view point and are looking to the team for guidance to get them through," Compton said.

The curriculum planning began when UofL received a five-year $1.5 million grant in 2010 from the National Institutes of Health to develop, implement and evaluate an interdisciplinary oncology palliative care education program.

Mark Pfeifer, MD, professor of medicine, UofL Division of General Internal Medicine, Palliative Medicine and Medical Education, is the principal investigator on the project.

"Palliative care is much more than end-of-life care," said Pfeifer, who also is senior vice president and chief medical officer for ULH. "It focuses on ongoing quality of life and well-being and is integral to the treatment of c
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Contact: Julie Heflin
julie.heflin@louisville.edu
502-852-7987
University of Louisville
Source:Eurekalert

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