Pharmacy school to offer palliative care certificate

A new program is giving pharmacy students a prescription for empathy.

The University of Iowa College of Pharmacy recently added a Palliative Care Certificate, the school’s first professional certificate, to teach pharmacy students about palliative care and meet the rising demand for end-of-life care.

“We want to help our students develop empathetic skills,” says Kashelle Lockman, assistant clinical professor in a press release. “Some of them may already have experienced the loss of a loved one, but many have not. It’s important to understand when medicine can help but also when it can’t. if there’s spiritual suffering, there’s no pill in the world that can fill that void.”

The new certificate program will teach students how to apply palliative care in emergency medicine, geriatrics, pediatrics, cardiology and other medical environments. Pharmacists trained in palliative care work with an interdisciplinary team to ease a patient’s pain and manage symptoms using traditional medicine as well as alternative therapies such as spiritual guidance and music therapy.

The program was developed following a $1.5 million gift from University of Iowa alumnus James Otterbeck, chairman of OnePoint Patient Care, an independent hospice-pharmacy services provider. Otterbeck told college officials he was having trouble finding well-trained palliative pharmacists to work in his business.

The first group of certificate students started training this spring, and graduates will be eligible to participate in palliative care residences and fellowships. The program is open to pharmacy students in their second year and, for now, is limited to 16 students per graduating class.

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