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Starting the conversation about end-of-life planning with your patients can be tough, but taking that step can give them hope and put them at ease for whatever may lie ahead.

Throughout the continuum of your patients’ care–from the prime of life to the end—you are their partner and a valuable resource. You play a vital role in helping your patients understand what treatment options are available, including risks and benefits, so they can make decisions about the care they want should they face a serious illness or injury.

To assist you in encouraging your patients to plan for the future, Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest has assembled a multitude of resources for physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains and other health care professionals in Washington state.

Why It Should Start With You
One of the key findings in the highly acclaimed Institute of Medicine Report, Dying in America points out that frequent conversations need to occur between clinicians and the patient to avoid treatment that patient does not desire. This includes conversations that include end-of-life goals, values and informed preferences on options available. The report identifies that conversations should be initiated by clinicians to ensure that decisions made by family and patients can be understood and well-informed. (Read synopsis in the New York Times.)

Attend a seminar or training  in your community to get up-to-date on best practices for helping patients share their wishes for end-of-life care. Learn about conferences on palliative care and hospice as well.

Review current research and articles about the need for advance care planning, including the different processes and approaches. Get up to date on evidence-based practices, and current policy and commentary on issues surrounding end-of-life care.

Having conversations about end of life is often challenging and your patients may delay this having this conversation. By helping them begin a discussion of their preferences, you’re starting them on a potentially rewarding and fulfilling personal journey.

Thank you for making a difference for your patients every day, and for assisting your patients with making informed and personal choices about their end of life.