For Health Care Professionals
The Institute for Human Caring offers physicians, nurses, social workers,
chaplains, case managers and other continuing education and advanced training
to support whole person care.
The Institute’s provider education portfolio emphasizes ongoing communication,
goals-of-care clarification, and shared decision-making, as well as pain
and symptom management – including the safe use of opioids.
Advanced communication training offers clinicians skills to engage in goals-of-care
conversations with patients and families, particularly with serious illness.
Physicians need to take the lead in initiating such discussions with patients
Done well, the outcomes are mutually reinforcing. For patient and families,
the benefits include:
- Getting the full advantages of evidence-based treatments
- Avoiding unwanted, or non-beneficial, and expensive treatments
- Having more time at home
- Knowing what to do if problems occur and, therefore, spending less time
dealing with crises
- Having confidence in treatment decisions
- Feeling known (as a person) by one’s health care team.
Professional caregivers benefit by feeling more fulfilled in their jobs
and proud of the high-quality, personalized care they provide.
“I liked the fact the training emphasized what is it that you value
as a patient, what are the things you’d like to retain through your
serious illness. It moves from your disease, to what’s important
to you, so we’re treating the person, not a disease.” –
Dr. Vik Dahbi, oncologist, PacMed
The POLST Conversation:
Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) is a physician order
that outlines a plan of care reflecting a patient’s wishes concerning
care at life’s end. The POLST form is voluntary and is intended to:
- Help you and your patient discuss and develop plans to reflect his or her wishes
- Assist physicians, nurses, healthcare facilities, and emergency personnel
in honoring a person’s wishes for life-sustaining treatment
For more information, please visit
POLST for health care providers.
Have the POLST Conversation
Having a conversation with your seriously-ill patient about care at the
end of their life is an important and necessary part of good medical care.
For some providers, initiating the POLST conversation can be challenging.
Daniel J. Kim, M.D., at
St Jude Medical Center has shared a video with us that may assist clinicians in having these
Advance care planning discussions are not a one-time event. These talks
can occur several times over the course of treatment or several times
during the aging process. POLST is making a difference. Studies have shown
that among patients with POLST forms treatment preferences were respected
98% of the time, and no one received unwanted CPR, intubations, intensive
care or feeding tubes (Coalition for Compassionate Care of California).