Palliative Care & Quality of Life

Last fall, the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria (UICOMP), in partnership with OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center, announced a new physician training program in hospice and palliative medicine—the fifth new UICOMP fellowship added in partnership with OSF HealthCare in the past five years.

Palliative medicine—which focuses on improving the quality of life of patients facing a life-threatening illness—has become the fastest-growing medical specialty in the country. Unfortunately, there are not nearly enough trained physicians to meet current or future demand.

With an aging population and more than nine million Americans facing serious illness, the new UICOMP program addresses this critical issue by providing in-depth training on pain and symptom management, advanced communication skills, legal and ethical concerns, and other quality-of-life issues. Each year, the program will accept up to two physicians, who will train at OSF Healthcare Saint Francis Medical Center, OSF Richard L. Owens Hospice Home, area nursing homes and an outpatient clinic—and even conduct home visits.

Because physicians tend to practice in the communities where they complete medical school or residency, this is a good sign for Greater Peoria. But with the aging population continuing to rise—and retiring boomers expecting a high quality of life in their later years—it’s certain that more attention will be paid to this issue in the future. iBi

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