Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont
Telecoaching Palliative Care Communication Skills for Rural Clinicians
To create a longitudinal telecoaching model for palliative care communication skills that is effective, feasible, scalable, and specifically targets rural community primary care providers who have limited access to palliative care specialists.
“I chose palliative care because I wanted to make a significant difference for patients and their families. No other specialty seems to put patients at the heart and center of their practice, prioritizing values and quality of life through effective communication, symptom management, and interprofessional collaboration. During the past two decades, palliative care has made significant strides in improving the quality of healthcare and expanding its reach to patients, particularly in the hospital setting. Yet, rural communities continue to lag in their access to palliative care. Growing generalist palliative care skills for rural frontline providers is a critical component to improve care for these communities. Several educational interventions to train generalist palliative care skills, particularly in patient-centered communication, have achieved short-term changes in skill improvement after completed workshops. Little is known about how to sustain durable change in clinical practice. Telecoaching may be a method of training that can provide post-course skill consolidation and improvement over long distances. My Sojourns Scholar Leadership project can help me realize this outcome by delivering on two tangible goals: 1) Develop a feasible, generalizable model to coach communication skills that promotes skill maintenance and improvement; and 2) Cultivate the tools necessary to effectively scale, measure, adapt, and integrate skills into usual clinical practice norms. By doing so, I hope to expand generalist palliative care skills across the state of Vermont—and ultimately forge a path to help standardize access to high quality palliative care nationally, no matter where a patient lives.”