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The Early Years (1988 to 1998)

Dr. Josefina Magno, president of the International Hospice Institute, and Dr. Gerald H. Holman, director of St. Anthony's Hospice and Life Enrichment Center, met to discuss the possibility of forming an organization of hospice physicians. A year later in June 1988, at the International Hospice Institute meeting in Granby, Colorado, 127 of the original 250 founding member physicians gathered - and The Academy of Hospice Physicians was born.

There were many firsts during those early years. The first issue of the Hospice Update newsletter was published and educational programs were developed to share information with physicians interested in hospice care. In its continuing effort to educate others on hospice and palliative medicine, the Academy began publishing books, including the first core curriculum of hospice and palliative care, the UNIPACs, and the first Primer of Palliative Care.

This was also a significant time for the specialty as the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (ABHPM) was incorporated and began to offer certifying exams. The Academy also achieved CME provider status from the American Council on Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) and was invited to become a provisional member of the Specialty and Service Society Section of the American Medical Association (AMA). With membership now approaching 1400 and interest in the specialty growing among non-physicians and those working a variety of settings, the Academy changed its name to the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. During this time the Academy also affiliated with its first journal, the Journal of Palliative Medicine.

    Growing Stronger (1998 to 2008)

    In the early 2000’s, AAHPM was awarded a $1.2 million grant from the Open Society Institute’s Project on Death in America to expand its infrastructure and develop the College of Palliative Care in an effort to advance palliative care as an academic and clinical discipline through educational and research endeavors.

    AAHPM worked closely with ABHPM to achieve recognition for the subspecialty of hospice and palliative medicine in 2006 within the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The ABMS certification examination is now offered by 10 specialty boards: the American Boards of Internal Medicine, Anesthesiology, Family Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Psychiatry and Neurology, Surgery, Pediatrics Emergency Medicine, Radiology, Obstetrics and Gynecology. Shortly thereafter, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the American Osteopathic Association also officially recognized hospice and palliative medicine as a medical subspecialty.

    Recognized as a leader in the field, AAHPM secured a seat in AMA House of Delegates. The Academy also became a founding member of the Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition, which now includes the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA), the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), and the National Palliative Care and Research Center (NPCRC). Together, these groups work to influence numerous public policy initiatives in Washington, DC for the benefit of their members. As a co-sponsor of the annual Kathleen Foley Research Retreat, along with the NPCRC, the American Cancer Society and the LIVESTRONG Foundation, AAHPM has been involved in advancing palliative care research.

    The Academy continued to publish books for the field, including the Medical Director Model for physicians working in hospice settings and updates to previous versions of the UNIPACs and the Primer and began to venture into e-learning with the release of HPM PASS and HPM FAST, online tests designed to assess knowledge of the field. PC-FACS, an electronic “journal watch” that summarizes key articles from more than 100 medical and scientific journals, which is consistently ranked one of the highest regarded resources by AAHPM members each year. By the end of 2008, Academy membership had nearly tripled to 3,600 members.

    Expanded Awareness, Diversification and Support (2008 to today)

    Today, nearly 5,000 members call the Academy their home. They are active in 24 communities and involved in more than 30 committees and task forces. Strategic focus continues to center on strengthening member engagement; building workforce and leadership; advancing knowledge and competency; promoting quality of care and evidence-based practice; and increasing advocacy and awareness.

    In an effort to help seriously ill patients and their families better understand hospice and palliative care, the Academy created AAHPM was also one of the first medical societies to be active in social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and hosting several groups on LinkedIn. AAHPM also has a blog to encourage discussion among hospice and palliative medicine professionals. These sites generate awareness, support, knowledge and value to new audiences. To increase awareness among healthcare professionals, the Academy sponsors Hospice and Palliative Medicine SmartBriefs and the satellite radio show and web program, Perspectives in Palliative Medicine on ReachMD.

    To continue to expand its influence among key players, the Academy has become involved with numerous national organizations, including the Council of Medical Specialty Societies and the American Medical Association.

    In 2008, AAHPM affiliated with the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, an established, well-respected journal that publishes peer-reviewed research focusing on pain management and palliative care. Interest in Academy programs continues to grow – as members flock to sold-out Intensive Board Review and Medical Director courses and attend the popular AAHPM & HPNA Annual Assembly which has grown to more than 2,400 participants each year. An expanded array of Academy products and programs, including the new UNIPAC series, the Hospice Medical Director Manual and HPM PASS and HPM FAST, helps to enhance knowledge and improve care.

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