Congratulations to Dr. Rebecca Aslakson who recently earned the designation Fellow of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. This new Fellow of the Academy was asked – what would you say is the biggest opportunity for the field of Hospice and Palliative Medicine? We are sharing her answer in this post.

“For me, the biggest opportunity in HPM is identifying, studying, and implementing natural moments in daily life and routine medical care to proactively incorporate palliative care and advance care planning. Many providers consider palliative care approaches only when a patient reaches late stage disease – a cancer patient has already progressed through three rounds of chemotherapy or the ALS patient is now possibly needing ventilatory support. The opportunity is to move “upstream” and to find new moments and ways to integrate HPM, particularly by primary palliative care providers. How can a primary care physician incorporate elements of advance care planning with any new diagnosis of prostate cancer? How might a surgical team include advance care planning into the medical workup prior to a colectomy? What simple things can ICU teams do to improve patient symptom experience? And, for whatever reason, if primary teams are unable to take these opportunities to improve patient care, then how can we build a system so that these issues are instead addressed by specialist palliative care providers? We need data to support that these “upstream” approaches improve meaningful patient, family, and healthcare system outcomes and then we need ways to disseminate both the data and the practices. These are immense opportunities to improve medical care experience by all patients and their loved ones!”

Advancement to fellowship status within the academy honors dedication to and scholarship in the field of the hospice and palliative medicine. This distinction represents a minimum of 5 years of membership, participation in AAHPM activities, letters of recommendation, and board certification in hospice and palliative medicine. Dr. Aslakson will receive the designation during the Annual Assembly of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association in Chicago, IL on Saturday, March 12, 2016.
Check back regularly for posts from other Fellows.