How well prepared are health professionals to have tough conversations that matter?

Portrait of Linda Nolte
Most health professionals want what’s best for their patients. It’s part of their DNA. Increasingly, the health professionals I meet understand the importance of advance care planning in supporting patient-care. However many of them express that while they would like to help patients with advance care planning, they need more training and support to improve their skills and confidence in handling these robust conversations.

Given that advance care planning content is not a standard element in medical, nursing or allied health curricula, this is hardly surprising. Dealing with patients suffering from chronic and complex health conditions is tough. There are symptoms to manage, emotions to navigate and loved ones to consider. Asking them to think about a future time when they may be too ill to make their own decisions can be even tougher. However we can’t shy away from these difficult conversations. Research tells us that there are benefits for people and their families, when they take a more active role in their future health care.

Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA) offers free online learning to enable busy health professionals and care workers to upskill and build confidence in advance care planning. Our content is evidence-based and offers practical information for Australian health professionals, including real life case studies and legal considerations.

The case for integrating advance care planning in university health curricula
Given the considerable social and economic challenges that come with a rapidly ageing population, we are strongly of the view that advance care planning should be integrated as a standard Australian curricula element for medicine, nursing and health courses in higher education. ACPA is currently working on a project to explore how we might include advance care planning content into Australian tertiary education health programs. We invite education providers interested in getting involved in this project, to get in touch with us. 

We look forward to a future where the next generation of health professionals are equipped with advance care planning knowledge and skills, before they step into our hospitals and clinics. Only then will we succeed in truly empowering and supporting people to make their own treatment decisions. 

Linda Nolte
Program Director
Advance Care Planning Australia
 

This submission was first published by CareSearch 

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