Sojourns Scholars Building Leadership Skills

Sojourns Scholars Build Leadership Skills Through Collaboration

By Rob Goodman

The Cambia Health Foundation launched the Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program in 2014 with the goal of advancing capacity, leadership and innovation in the field of palliative care. Now in its fourth year, there are 40 scholars around the country, each focused on different areas of palliative care but all committed to improving the experience of people and families facing serious illness. In a series of video interviews, three of the scholars from the 2014 cohort share their thoughts about what they see as the key elements that make the Sojourns Scholar program so unique.


Dr. Elizabeth Lindenberger, who works at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, says, “This program has been an incredible gift for me.” Her research focuses on communication skills training for clinicians caring for older patients with serious and life-limiting illness. The ability to learn from other experts across the industry helps her grow her knowledge.

For Dr. Wendy Anderson, the emphasis on developing leadership skills and understanding how palliative care fits into the national health care discussion has been important. As a physician practicing at the University of California, San Francisco, she has found that the Sojourns program has helped her to understand “how to talk about palliative care…and how change happens with one leader at a time.”


Working at the Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence at the University of Washington has given
Dr. Caroline Hurd the opportunity to deeply immerse herself in palliative care. Her area of study is developing curriculum for critical communications in residency education. Being part of the Sojourns Scholar program has allowed her to examine palliative care on a much larger scale than she ever thought possible. As Dr. Hurd commented, being a Sojourns Scholar “has forced me to be on a national stage as an expert in an area that is new.”
While the field of palliative care is growing, there is a shortage of experts. According to a 2016 report in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, “One-third of U.S. hospitals report no palliative care services of any kind, and access to palliative care in community settings (home, nursing home, assisted living) is limited for people who are not hospice-eligible. As a result, most people with serious illness are unlikely to receive the care they need throughout their course of illness.”
This limited number of palliative care experts is one of the main reasons why the Cambia Health Foundation invests so much in helping to develop the palliative care workforce of the future.