Friday, July 15, 2011

Thoughts on...palliative care

Most people want to avoid the discussion of death, but for the palliative care team it's their job. My first 'official encounter' with palliative care was on my very first day of med school. Everyone in the class got to shadow a physician for the day and when I found out what specialty I was assigned, I thought, "What the heck is that??"

Since that time I have discovered that the palliative care physician:
  • acts as a comforter
  • aims to alleviate pain
  • normalizes death and the process of dying

Today my preceptor was off so I spent the day with one of the nurses - Noelene. She's Irish (loooove the accent!) and we had a ball visiting patients, chatting on the road, ...and learning to use the fancy rental car. I don't think Noelene had ever driven a car with power windows before. I had a great time showing her all the gadgets of our luxury ride ;).

So, is palliative care for me? Honestly, as a specialty, I don't think so. Don't get me wrong, I greatly admire what my preceptor does and know that whatever I choose will have a component of palliative to it, but it's not my passion...

...Today we visited the family of one of our patients who died and I was surprisingly able to emotionally keep it together. But I found myself wanting to fix the say something that would make everyone feel better...and I couldn't. It definitely takes a very special kind of person to make palliative care their niche.

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