Exploring Service Learning Partnerships with Hospice in Allied Health Education

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Esquibel, Catherine M.
Washburn University
Department of Allied Health
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Students in allied health professions such as radiation therapy will have encounters with patients who are dying. While clinical rotations and classroom discussions are designed to provide exposure to these situations, many students may not be prepared to fully comprehend or address the complexities surrounding death and dying. This project was intended to examine students' familiarity with services such as hospice and palliative care and to explore the use of a service learning experience in a local hospice to help them become more comfortable with patients and their families during stressful end of life transitions. Allied health students were asked to participate in a short survey on hospice and palliative care. The data indicated most students had some knowledge of these services, but student also felt it would be helpful to spend time with a patient who was nearing death. A local hospice was contacted, and objectives were discussed regarding working together in the future on a service learning project involving allied health students. Service learning opportunities in allied health programs can offer meaningful experiences for students to serve in the community while learning skills such as communication and empathy in non-traditional learning environments.