Integrating Palliative Care Education Into Hematology-Oncology Fellowships

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An integrated palliative care rotation for hematology-oncology fellows may improve their palliative care knowledge and skill confidence, according to findings presented by Bauman et al at the 2024 ASCO Annual Meeting (Abstract 9007).

“Despite national guidelines advocating that patients with advanced cancer receive dedicated palliative care services, many patients lack access to specialty palliative care due to workforce shortages,” stressed lead study author Jessica Bauman, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Hematology/Oncology, Chief of the Division of Head and Neck Medical Oncology, and Director of the Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Training Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center. “Training hematology-oncologists to provide primary palliative care could close this gap and ensure [the] basic palliative care needs of patients are met,” she highlighted.

Study Methods and Results

In the pilot study, researchers asked 19 hematology-oncology fellows from three hematology-oncology fellowship classes to identify patients with palliative care needs from their practices and refer them to a palliative care clinic over a period of 6 months between 2018 and 2023. The fellows then visited the patients in the palliative care clinic and hematology-oncology clinic as well as during hospitalizations. During these visits, the fellows were accompanied by attending physicians. 

“These visits were all tracked, and fellows were surveyed before and after their rotations to evaluate their skill confidence and knowledge. After the rotation, they were also surveyed on acceptability and teaching quality,” explained Dr. Bauman. 

Among the 17 fellows who rated acceptability, 16 of them rated the rotation as valuable or extremely valuable and 15 of them agreed or strongly agreed that the rotation structure was effective. Additionally, the researchers found that 17 of the fellows agreed or strongly agreed that the rotation both changed their clinical practice and helped them feel more engaged in working with their patients who were most in need of palliative care. 


“The pilot program showed that participating in this rotation changed clinical practice and improved the palliative care knowledge and skill confidence of fellows,” underscored Dr. Bauman. “Having seen these results, we believe this pilot could serve as a model for integrating palliative care education into hematology-oncology fellowships nationally,” she concluded.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

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