A growing number of Americans are reaching the age where they require end-of-life care. Unfortunately, however, few medical professionals are going into the hospice care field.
Just two years ago, in 2014, approximately 58.9% of hospice patients received care at their own homes. Yet doctors just aren’t entering this subcategory of the medical field, and it’s partly because of the emotional toll it takes on everyone involved.
“I do think it’s a calling to do this kind of work,” said Dr. Jennifer Davis, medical director for Hospice of Davidson County. “You have to have a lot of compassion, communication skills and excellent skills to keep patients comfortable. There simply [are] not enough physicians that specialize in hospice and palliative medicine.”
According to MyFox8, Davis believes that if more and more medical residents are trained in hospice care, it might encourage more doctors to specialize in that field.
“Hopefully new doctors such as myself can rise to that occasion,” said Dr. Tony Nguyen, a resident at Wake Forest School of Medicine currently working in hospice care. “For those who don’t choose that specialty, at least they can get exposed to it so they can help those patients make informed decisions.”
The shortage of doctors entering this specific field isn’t the only issue for the hospice industry. Mix96 reports that a shortage of nurses working in hospice is causing problems as well.
“In the last year or so we have begun to see the effects of the national shortage in nurses on our own recruitment,” said Sue Varvel, Director of Nursing and Clinical Services at Rennie Grove Hospice Care. “We decided we must make a bold move to ensure we are prepared to meet future demand for our services.”
Rennie Grove began a new program, The Preceptorship Program, aimed at recruiting Newly Qualified Nurses to spend at least a year in hospice treatment.