Program Spotlight: Training and Retaining the Palliative Care Team

March 4, 2017 | By CAPC Staff

One of the hurdles in building out one’s hospital-based palliative care team is the hiring, training, and retaining of an established team of skilled full-time palliative care specialists. The challenge comes not only from finding those individuals that possess the experience and passion for palliative care, but in developing a full team of all recommended staff positions that does not fall short of national staffing guidelines. In fact, a recent study showed that few hospital palliative care programs meet the Joint Commission’s national staffing recommendations. Data collected from over 400 palliative care programs indicated that only 25% of surveyed programs contain all full-time staff positions recommended in the national guidelines.

“We created a culture where if someone is struggling with a case … that people are very transparent about it … they are perceived as open and honest about how difficult this work can be.”

Dr. Gregg VandeKieft
Medical Director, Palliative Care, Providence St. Peter Hospital

In this episode, we speak with Gregg VandeKieft, MD, MA, about his philosophy and goals around training and retaining a robust team of full-time staff that does meet the standard. Gregg is the Medical Director for Palliative Care at Providence St. Peter Hospital, a Magnet Hospital in Washington. He shares with us the evolution of his program and team, and offers his insight and approach to finding and training staff members that are the right fit. Gregg attributes much of the program’s success to the effort his team has invested in creating a culture wherein chemistry and openness between team members is paramount. This combination of experience, community, and relationship building is necessary to develop, motivate, and retain a palliative care team that is able to meet growing patient needs.

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