MED 51Q: Palliative Medicine, Hospice and End of Life Care

Photo: Spring 2014 class

Spring 2014 class

MED 51Q: Palliative Medicine, Hospice and End of Life Care aims to introduce the student to the scientific principles of high quality care of all seriously ill Americans. We use the framework of promotion of holistic well-being in living as well as in dying. Students learn the scientific principles of Palliative Medicine, understand the differences between Palliative Care and Hospice Care and also be broadly exposed to the issues related death and dying in the US.

During each week in class, we focus on broad knowledge acquisition using immersive learning strategies. Weekly home work assignments include self study of key articles and the students write a report summarizing what they learned. The course culminates in a student designed, developed and implemented field project aimed at gaining a better understanding of the issues faced by seriously ill Americans and their families. In order to successfully graduate the course, students complete and submit a structured report as well as do a formal presentation on the last day of class.

Project presentations by Fall/Winter 2016-17 students at Stanford on December 12, 2016

Perceptions of Physician-Assisted Death
by Brooke Mounsey and Janet Chen

Physician-assisted death was only recently legalized in California, as the End of Life Option Act came into effect in June 2016. Given that it is a recently revitalized bioethical issue, and one we believe Californians should be aware of, we decided to explore people’s perceptions of the end of life option.


Destigmatizing Family Caregiving
by Hannah Miller and Arianna Tapia

Family caregivers do not receive the support they need in order to care for a loved one and to take care of themselves. From our perspective, family caregivers often feel isolated from their friends and family and lack support and education for reasons such as the cultural attitudes towards death, dying, and the elderly.


Why we can’t get it right: Examining connections between quality and cost of elder care
by Lisa Manzanete

How do connections between cost and quality of nursing home care influence the quality of life of nursing home residents, and is increased investment in nursing home care a feasible path towards improving elder care in America? Elderly Americans have experienced substandard nursing home care for generations, and payed devastatingly high prices for that care. We must increase quality, and cut costs so quality elder care is available to all, even as baby boomers retire and the economic burden inevitably increases.


Empathy and Patient Care Improvement for Asian Americans.
by Jonathan Wang and Yong-hun Kim

We explored the challenge of practicing empathy with diverse American patients through the lens of the Asian American experience. By 2042, white Americans are projected to lose their status as the majority group, and we need to prepare for this drastic shift in demographic dynamics to provide effective and sensitive care to all American residents.


Project presentations by Spring 2015 students at Stanford on June 1, 2015

Transitions: Finding concordance between health-care outcomes and fundamental humanistic values
by Hollis Kool and Alyssa Morrison

Observing this connection of decision-making between wishes and reality is important because often, these decisions are not made beforehand and do not accurately reflect the intentions of the individual. By understanding the process and thought behind decisions can lead to more predictable outcomes relevant to everyday life and the end-of-life process.


How Religion Shapes Perceptions Towards End of Life Care by Anthony Milki and Krista Cooksey

End-of-life discussions are very difficult. These discussions are often complicated by both the patient’s and physician’s belief systems which are made up of cultural beliefs as well as religious practices. Given the capacity of these various systems of belief to clash and cause miscommunication, it is highly important for physicians and members of the medical community to understand the ways in which these ideas are shaped in order to better serve their patients.


Physicians’ Perspectives on End-of-Life Care by Ted Miclau

We often hear about the choices patients make, but rarely is the treatment of doctors themselves discussed. Is there a consistency in how physicians feel towards their personal end-of-life care, and why they might have been led to think in a certain way. Although the subject is interesting, it is only a problem if doctors do not feel the same way as patients, in which case we need to evaluate why such a dichotomy occurs.


Project presentations by Spring 2014 students at Stanford on June 2, 2014

Caregivers: Our Unsung Heroes by Emily Taing and Chris Chen

Many chronically and seriously ill Americans depend on their family members to provide care for them in their activities of daily living. Data show that the efficacy of caregiving is influenced by the attitude of the caregiver. Minimizing caregiver stress is vital in ensuring that the patient has the highest quality of life.The objective of this project was to learn more about the stresses and challenges experienced by family caregivers of patients with chronic and serious illnesses. Specifically we wanted to better understand how caregiver felt about their role in caring for their relative and also learn how to best help them in their role as caregivers.

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Death and Dying by Vivian Lam

Effective communication is a vital aspect of high quality medical care, especially in end-of-life situations. Too often are the wishes and preferences of the patient disregarded, unvoiced, or superseded by loved ones or physicians. The default plan of action is to rigorously fight illness with sophisticated technology and the voice of the patients is often lost in cacophony of wishes and voices of the various health care and family stakeholders involved in care. But we cannot deprive the patient of choice in the face of death—the patient must be given a chance to evaluate what they want, what they need, and all parties must respect these wishes. In my project, I completed a series of interviews of older adults in an institutional setting to better understand their values and preferences for end of life care.

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Palliative Care: A pediatric Perspective by Eden Hailemichael, Nicole Jackson, and Will Fowler

How do societal views of palliative care affect knowledge about it and how people would approach different situations unique to palliative care, and how that could be bettered through more conversation concerning the topic.This problem has a direct effect on the communication existing between physicians and patients and can ultimately impact health outcomes of patients. It’s also something everyone will inevitably go through, so the processes concerning end-of-life might as well be at the best level it can be.

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