Each year, AAHPM awards a number of scholarships to deserving individuals to attend the Annual Kathleen M. Foley Palliative Care Retreat & Research Symposium through the Research Scholars Program. Congratulations to our 2016 recipients! Gain an insider’s view of the retreat from current AAHPM President Christian Sinclair.

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During this year as president of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM), I am privileged to hear about many of the great things happening in our field. This past week I attended the Kathleen Foley Palliative Care Retreat and Research Symposium in Quebec City where junior and senior researchers gathered for education, networking and mentorship.  Dr. Sean Morrison and the National Palliative Care Research Center (NPCRC) were responsible for convening this grand meeting as they had done for the past nine years.  This year’s co-sponsors included the American Cancer Society (ACS), AAHPM, the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA), Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and Emily David and Joseph S. Kornfeld Foundation.

Like many of you, I am not a researcher, but I do consider myself quite a big fan of research, as it helps establish the foundations for our interventions and ability as a field to change systems of care. The researchers invited were a diverse group of nurses, psychologists, social workers and physicians holding grants supported by the NPCRC and ACS, research scholarships from AAHPM and HPNA, and other leaders, investors, and supporters of the field of palliative care.

During the two days of content, the approaches to learning were varied, from classic didactics from Vincent Mor, Ab Brody, Susan Mitchell and others, to the poster presentations and work-in-progress sessions from many of the junior investigators. Names that you recognize from articles like Tulsky, Arnold, Temel, Ritchie, Kutner, Teno, Ferrell, Mor, Mitchell, Wolfe and others were there to give feedback to early- and mid-career researchers as they presented their work. The camaraderie and mutual admiration was evident from the many conversations I observed and participated in.

One of the big themes at this 10th Foley Retreat, was looking to the future. The NPCRC had already accomplished many of the early goals of creating a stronger research pipeline through support of early-career scientist-clinicians, yet open discussions were held to best plan for the future in an ever-shifting funding landscape. Many felt that the support from the NPCRC and aligned organizations (like AAHPM and others) was critical to maintaining the momentum by helping palliative care researchers get started wherever they are, especially when there are only a handful of institutions able to crank out the studies we need as a young field.

Like the opportunity to visit with those preparing for the boards and hospice medical directors at this year’s Summer Institute, I am very appreciative to see the diversity of professional focus in hospice and palliative care. At the heart of these experiences is fellow hospice and palliative care clinicians supporting each other, which is one of the reasons I love this field and support the Academy.