Those who provide healthcare in our community are in a unique position to start a conversation with patients and families about advance care planning. Below are insights from two providers about what they see in their professional life that affects the way we are sharing our end of life wishes.
Rey, a nurse and family nurse practitioner student shared his thoughts on end-of-life care.
“I’ve seen very few primary healthcare providers, such as nurses, social workers, nurse practitioners, and physicians, ask or initiate conversations regarding end-of-life care. I have seen patients in the age range of 80 to 90 years old who were put on aggressive treatments for various chronic illnesses. Some of these patients are unaware of advance directives or advance care planning and their decision-making is dependent on the clinicians’ opinion. This gap in healthcare needs to be addressed so we can increase the frequency of end-of-life care discussions. One of my goals as a student is to increase communications about end-of-life planning by educating providers so we can honor what matters the most to the patient and also improve clinicians’ confidence and knowledge in this area.”
Rey’s personal story about sharing end of life wishes with his own family is below in both English and Filipino.
Dr. Ron Fischler sees the need for more to be done too and has accepted the challenge to lead an End of Life Care task force comprised of 25 physicians from the Arizona Medical Association and Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association.
“As a physician in my 70’s , having witnessed the deaths of friends and family members, , I became inspired to learn more about how to make this final chapter of our lives better, and especially to make our experience of dying more compassionate and peaceful.
“We have learned that far too few people take the time to consider what the end of their lives might look like and, as a result, their end-of-life care is not what they hoped it would be. There is an alternative. It’s called Advanced Care Planning, which everyone should consider over age 60 or if diagnosed with a serious medical condition. Living fully and dying peacefully are achievable goals and you have a lot more control than you may think, but planning and communication are key.
“Our survey of Arizona doctors indicate they are often reluctant to bring these issues up for fear of upsetting you. However, you have a right to know what your disease process will likely entail, what the likely course of your illness will be, what your options are and the benefits and risks of each option. Armed with this information, you can make the best decisions for your end-of-life care.
“Training is being offered for healthcare professionals on how to improve their communications with patients on these sensitive and difficult matters to make up for the lack of training that most physicians report.
Click on the video below to hear more from Dr. Fischler.