Health Professionals Palliative Care Education for Older Adults: Overcoming Ageism, Racism, and Gender Bias

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Current Geriatrics Reports


Purpose of review: Most aging Americans lack access to specialist palliative care aimed at those experiencing serious illness and/or high symptom burden at end of life. The curricula used by training programs for all healthcare professions should focus on helping learners develop the primary palliative care skills and competencies necessary to provide compassionate bias-free care for adults with serious illness. We believe there is much opportunity to improve this landscape via the incorporation of palliative care competencies throughout generalist healthcare professional programs. Recent findings: Several recent publications highlight multiple issues with recruitment and retention of diverse students and faculty into healthcare professional training programs. There are also concerns that the curricula are reinforcing age, race, and gender biases. Due to these biases, healthcare professionals graduate from their training programs with socialized stereotypes unquestioned when caring for older adult minority patients and caregivers. Summary: Important lessons must be incorporated to assure that bias against age, race, and gender are discovered and openly addressed in healthcare professional’s education programs. This review highlights these three types of bias and their interrelationships with the aim of revealing hidden truths in the education of healthcare professionals. Ultimately, we offer targeted recommendations of focus for programs to address implicit bias within their curricula.

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