AAHPM — Summer Quarterly 2012
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Sally Weir

AAHPM Extends Fellowship Grants with Support from Samuels Foundation

In April, the Academy received the exciting news that it would again be the recipient of a grant to fund hospice and palliative medicine fellowship training programs—this time from The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation (Samuels Foundation), which targets training programs within the greater New York City region. The grant initiative is similar to The Hearst Foundations’ “Aging Initiative,” received in 2011 in the amount of $1.2 million.

AAHPM was introduced to the Samuels Foundation through a staff member of The Hearst Foundations’ project. The Samuels Foundation invited the Academy to submit a full proposal for fellowship training funding in March 2012. The mission of The Samuels Foundation’s Healthy Aging Program is to “improve the health care and overall quality of life for the elderly of New York City.” Believing this mission matched that of the Academy’s fellowship grant program, the Samuels Foundation Board of Directors approved a grant award at its April meeting.

Rodney O. Tucker, MD MMM FAAHPM, co-chair of the Fellowship Grant Task Force, said he hopes AAHPM’s success with these grants encourages other organizations to apply for funding for training programs. “As our field evolves and the opportunities for specialized training in palliative care through fellowship programs expands, it is extremely exciting that these foundations are partnering with us to provide this funding in a very crucial time,” he said.

The greater New York City area has the largest concentration of accredited hospice and palliative medicine training programs in the United States. AAHPM will invite applications from the 10 eligible programs in this area and award 1-year, $39,750 Samuels Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship Grants for the 2013- 2014 academic year to institutions that are committed to matching the amount of the grant funding and focused on caring for the aging population within the greater New York City region. Upon completion of their 1-year fellowship training experience, Samuels fellows will join Hearst fellows at the AAHPM & HPNA Annual Assembly to participate in workshops and networking events to create and sustain a broader peer network.

AAHPM’s Fellowship Grant Task Force, appointed to develop and oversee the implementation and evaluation process for fellowship grants, posted the Samuels Foundation application in May and plans to announce awards in August 2012. In addition to work on the Samuels Foundation Grant, the task force submitted a renewal proposal for the second year of funding to The Hearst Foundations. The Hearst Foundations Board will confirm the grant during its June meeting.

There is significant interest in the United States regarding the baby boom generation and the need to ensure our aging population will receive quality health care. But hospice and palliative care attends not only to the needs of the aging population but also to those of children and adolescents who are living with life-threatening conditions. The Fellowship Grant Task Force will increase its efforts for reaching out to foundations that focus on pediatric programs and share the successful process of supporting specialty-level training for physicians who can meet the needs of this patient population.

Fellowship training programs continue to expand at a remarkable rate. In just 5 years, 85 programs have been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the American Osteopathic Association. At least 10 additional programs are under development or have had applications submitted for accreditation. Funding continues to be the number one concern of fellowship directors as the majority of academic medical centers currently meet or exceed the graduate medical education fellowship cap, reducing the opportunity for funding through Medicare of an institution’s newest specialty training program. In 2011, 35% of approved fellowship slots were unfilled mainly due to funding issues. During the past 7 years, AAHPM has partnered with foundations and organizations and distributed more than $1.95 million in grant funding to support fellowship training in hospice and palliative care. With a strong connection to fellowship directors in the field and a well-defined process for evaluating training programs, the Academy is viewed as a respected partner to support the training of physicians who will lead the delivery of hospice and palliative care into the future.