Education Resource Email #3: AAHPM’s Capitol Hill Days

In the interest of archiving the Education SIG’s “Education Resource Email” collection and making it more widely available, we have decided to post past emails. The email below was originally sent to the Education SIG listserve on November 21, 2012.
Capitol Hill Days and advocating for education funding

Dear Education SIG colleagues,

In the midst of your travel and/or preparation for the Thanksgiving holiday, I hope you can find time to read the following resource describing my experience at AAHPM’s Capitol Hill Days. I hope that it will offer some additional perspective on how both our SIG and the individuals therein might advocate for eduation funding. Most importantly, there is action that you can take today to help move this effort forward, so keep reading (or at least flag for follow-up when you return to work)!

I attended AAHPM’s Capitol Hill Days on behalf of our Education SIG this past July 16-18. I thought it might be useful to provide you with some information about what I learned during that experience and what it was like as a way of encouraging some of you to participate in Capitol Hill Days in future years.

Over the last few years, AAHPM has worked to craft a bill, entitled the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA), aimed at expanding opportunities for interdisciplinary education and training in palliative care and to secure support for its introduction in Congress. Specifically, PCHETA has 5 major aims:

1. Establishes Palliative Care and Hospice Education Centers to improve the training of interdisciplinary health professionals; develop and disseminate palliative care curricula; support training and retraining of faculty; provide students with clinical training in appropriate sites of care; and provide traineeships for advanced practice nurses.

2. Provides for physician training by authorizing grants to schools of medicine, teaching hospitals, and GME programs to train physicians (including residents, trainees, and fellows) who plan to teach palliative medicine.

3. Establishes Academic Career Awards to promote the career development of BC/BE junior faculty physicians in HPM. Eligible individuals must provide assurance of a full-time faculty appointment in a health professions institution and commit to spend a majority of their funded time teaching and developing skills in interdisciplinary education in palliative care.

4. Emphasizes workforce development by authorizing funding for up to 24 Palliative Care and Hospice Education Centers to establish fellowship programs that provide short-term intensive courses focused on palliative care. These fellowship programs will target current faculty who do not have formal training in palliative care and will provide formal re-training of these mid-career physicians in palliative medicine.

5. Provides career incentive awards for eligible health professionals who agree to teach or practice in the field of palliative care for at least 5 years. Eligible individuals include: advanced practice nurses, clinical social workers, pharmacists, and psychologists who are pursuing a doctorate or other advanced degrees in palliative care or related fields.

Sounds pretty great, right? Our visit to the Hill was timed to coincide with the week of this bill’s introduction on both the House and Senate floors. We began on Monday evening, July 16, with a working dinner where we were briefed on the bill and its potential impact on our field. We were lucky enough to have Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the primary sponsor of the bill, come to speak with us about his personal interest in this bill and about how we could be helpful to the cause in our upcoming meetings with other senators, representatives, and their staff members.

Tuesday morning, we learned about the legislative process and heard from various groups who are present throughout the year on the Hill working to advance issues related to hospice and palliative care. This was followed on Tuesday afternoon by highly coordinated visits with our local senators and representatives and/or members of their staff. In my case, I met with Legislative Assistants (LAs) for both of my state senators from North Carolina and with my own local representative, Rep. David Price (D-NC).

These experiences on Tuesday afternoon were clearly the highlight of the trip. We were understandably somewhat nervous as we entered the Senate and House office buildings, going through metal detectors and finding our way to the appropriate office replete with the state flag positioned outside the door. Luckily, we were accompanied by one of the staff members from the lobbying organization which supports AAHPM. They were there to ensure that we knew what to say (and what not to say) and also to debrief with us after our meetings. When meeting with legislative assistants, the staff member’s knowledge of the bill could vary from none to a modest amount. We often found ourselves explaining the difference between hospice and palliative care and highlighting the workforce issues in our field, especially as the population ages and becomes ever sicker. All in all, much of the interaction was not that different from talking with a patient or family member in our clinical setting. And who better to communicate about our field than one of us?! That, of course, is the impetus for these Capitol Hill Days.

The day after our visit, on July 19, 2012, AAHPM’s efforts came to fruition when the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA) was introduced in the United States Congress. PCHETA was introduced as S.3407 in the Senate by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and as H.R.6155 in the House by Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY17). As a result of our group’s collective efforts that week as well as ongoing efforts by AAHPM members and our lobbying group, the bill now has 38 co-sponsors in the House and 6 co-sponsors in the Senate.

As we learned during our time on the Hill, the introduction of PCHETA and gaining the above co-sponsors does not indicate that our work is done. In fact, just this week, those of us who attended Capitol Hill Days are following up with the staffers with whom we met in July. Any additional co-sponsors that we can gain during this lame duck session are very important as this support is very likely to carry over when the bill is re-introduced next year.

So, what can you do? If PCHETA sounds great to you, please visit the AAHPM Legislative Action Center at and take the time to contact your senators and representative. It doesn’t take long but it will go a long way towards this bill gaining traction leading in to the next Congress. Think of it as your way of giving thanks for the work that AAHPM elected leaders and staff members do on our behalf year-round for our field and its practitioners.

Overall, I found Capitol Hill Days to be a great opportunity to learn more about AAHPM’s policy agenda and advocacy efforts and to network with other AAHPM members interested in advocacy on the part of AAHPM and our field. If you have any questions about ths experience, I’d be more than happy to speak with any of you about it.

Best wishes to you all for a Thanksgiving spent with family or friends or doing good work for patients and families,

Lynn O’Neill, MD
Duke Palliative Care
Assistant Professor, Division of Geriatrics
Duke University School of Medicine
DUMC Box 2706, Durham, NC 27710
Telephone 919-668-7215 ~ Fax 919-684-0572

Education Resource Email #2: Harvard Macy Institute

In the interest of archiving the Education SIG’s “Education Resource Email” collection and making it more widely available, we have decided to post past emails. The email below was originally sent to the Education SIG listserve on July 13, 2012.
Hi everyone,
Two of your fellow EdSig members, Jennifer Reidy and Holly Yang, have taken the time to describe their experience at the Harvard Macy Institute faculty development course. Please keep reading as this is an amazing resource!
Lynn O’Neill
Education SIG Vice-Chair

Dear Education SIG members,

This year we’ve attended courses at the Harvard Macy Institute in Boston, which we want to highly recommend as an outstanding resource for faculty development. The Program for Educators in Healthcare Professions is designed for physicians, basic scientists and other healthcare professionals to stretch their skills in teaching, curriculum development, evaluation, leadership and information technology. The program consists of two sessions in residence at Harvard: an 11-day winter session and a 6-day spring session. Throughout the program and between the sessions, participants conduct an educational project of their own design at their home institution with support from peer and faculty mentors at Harvard Macy.

We had a class of about 80 people from 13 countries, and made invaluable friendships and professional relationships. The course director, Dr. Liz Armstrong, designed the course to foster a strong sense of community. The experience is very rigorous and intense, and you feel bonded to your classmates – likely for the rest of your careers. It is a great opportunity to network outside of palliative medicine and introduce our field to influential peers in medical education.

All of us have been to innumerable conferences during our education and careers, but Harvard Macy is truly a transformative, life-altering experience! The faculty are among the best we’ve ever seen, and they come from Harvard’s schools of medicine, business and graduate education. As a result, the curriculum is a fascinating mix of educational theory, adult developmental psychology, literature on organizational change and quality improvement, among other themes. One of the highlights of the course is the “peer consultation group,” which consists of 4-5 participants and a faculty facilitator who brainstorm ideas, give advice and provide support for each individual’s educational project throughout the course and beyond. We intend to keep in touch with our groups and will likely seek feedback from them for years to come.

For more details, you can check out their website at The program is expensive and requires a significant time commitment, so getting support from your own institution is paramount. There are a growing number of alumni who are palliative care physicians, so we are creating our own community as well! Please feel free to contact us if you have questions or want more information.


Jennifer Reidy, MD
University of Massachusetts

Holly Yang, MD
San Diego Hospice & Palliative Care

Educator Resource #1: MedEdPortal

We will be posting a series of emails/blog posts to highlight educational resources from the Education SIG throughout the year. Comments are welcome.

Dear Colleagues and Education SIG members

Now that we’ve gotten past the excitement of abstract submissions for next year’s Assembly in New Orleans, Lynn and I would like to engage you in sharing education resources with each other and our broader community. The goal is to promote increased scholarship for and dissemination of palliative care education initiatives. This email will be the first in a series to highlight a specific educator resource. All emails will also be posted on the AAHPM blog to engage a larger group of our colleagues. We encourage you to read about these resources, share your personal experiences with them, ask questions about them, pass them along to colleagues, and contribute to the conversation. Please also contact either of us directly if you would like to share a specific resource or have other ideas for pushing the shared vision of our Education SIG community forward.

Cheers, Everyone,

Laura Morrison, Chair
Lynn O’Neill, Chair-Elect
Education Special Interest Group, AAHPM

Educator Resource #1: MedEdPortal

This major resource focuses on academic medical and dental education and is operated by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Above all, MedEdPortal is a free, peer reviewed publication service. Because MedEdPortal publishes teaching and faculty development materials and assessment tools, it also serves as a place to find such things. In addition to medical and dental education materials, the website indicates they are now accepting interprofessional educational materials submissions that are relevant to medical or dental education. Those from non-medical disciplines can visit and submit materials.

The 3 main reasons to visit MedEdPortal:

1) Finding Education Materials and Resources for Your Program: One can easily search for curricular and assessment materials by numerous categories (medical specialty, ACGME competency, etc.) Searching under palliative care currently yields 27 items with some authors among our SIG community. You must create an account to log in and actually see the posted materials but summaries are accessible to anyone. Citations are also listed. Go see what resources you can find and avoid re-inventing the wheel.

2) Submitting Your Materials: A clear and rigorous submission and peer review process is described and diagramed on the website. This is much like a journal submission as far a formality, including a waiting period for review and feedback from editors with a decision (acceptance, rejection, and acceptance with revision). All materials accepted are published with a citation. Some institutions with clinician-educator pathways are giving these publications weight nearly equal to journal publications. Many aren’t but are still recognizing these as publications on a CV. As far as the timeline, MedEdPortal went through a major reorganization process last year to increase the efficiency of their system. It is new and improved. You should consider a submission, especially if your initiative will not be published in an article. Also, some materials published in articles are still eligible for publication here.

3) Peer Reviewing for Others: For those health professions educators interested in gaining peer review experience in this arena, MedEdPortal is accepting reviewer nominations. The website has very explicit detail about the review process and guidelines listed on the website. The listed contact is:


Does anyone have experience with MedEdPortal? Have you found helpful materials or had success with a submission? Is anyone a peer reviewer?

Colleagues have indicated to me that the submission process requires attention and effort and that the review process is rigorous and highly repected. If one is successful with a publication, it’s a nice accomplishment and contribution. Comments?

I hope you’ll all consider a visit to the website and remember this terrific resource. Obviously, we need to encourage them to have a specific category for our subspecialty, and we need to grow the number of palliative care materials available in the repository.

Cheers, Laura