Who has most influenced your work and what impact has he or she had?
I feel incredibly blessed to have been accompanied by wonderful people at various points throughout my career to guide me from novice to expert palliative clinician, educator, and leader. As a novice, my first nurse manager, Monica Hynes, encouraged me to provide excellent care with empathy. As an advanced beginner, Nancy Euchner, an executive director, role modeled that in chaos, there can be order and compassion. As I became a more solid in pain and palliative care, Maureen Lynch became a beacon for the nursing process and Loring Conant is a wise mentor in collaborative, interdisciplinary practice and the nurse–physician relationship. As I reached proficiency, Ed Coakley demonstrated disruptive thinking to move beyond boundaries and create new models for palliative care delivery. As an expert, my ELNEC colleagues expand my horizons in the common, essentials aspects of nursing. My CAPC colleagues motivate me in the expansion of palliative care into new settings. My HPNA connections ground my commitment to the field. My MUSC grant collaborators promote creative strategy. My fellow Cambia Sojourns Scholars motivate me in creativity, innovation, and leadership in palliative care.
What does it mean to you to be named a Visionary in Hospice and Palliative Medicine?
First of all, it is such an honor to be recognized by my colleagues in the field and I applaud AAHPM for this manner of marking their anniversary. Second, being named as a visionary allows me to express my excitement about the evolution of hospice and palliative care. As I pause and reflect, it has been so gratifying as I have loved my career and found it so rewarding. Yet, if you had asked me where I would be 20 years ago, I would never have imagined this. Focusing on hospice as part of my graduate oncology education was such a natural fit and the work was part of good care. Later, when I saw how hospice could be so more upstream, I was delighted to move into academia to promote palliative care as part of comprehensive care for all patients. It is my hope that I have offered others a foundation and network that did not previously exist.
What is your vision for the future of Hospice and Palliative Medicine?
My vision for Hospice and Palliative Medicine is that it continues to maintain the provision of interdisciplinary clinical care, while promoting interprofessional education, creating new models of palliative care led by any discipline, and spreading further into the true fabric of community. Being in the field has allowed me to both serve as a guide for patients and families, a mentor to colleagues, and develop the palliative APRN role. In my palliative care work, I have had an underlying purpose of service in providing patients, families, colleagues, and nurses, the care, support, education, and mentorship that would wish to have. It is my dream that palliative care becomes less about a health care specialty, but more about a way of life. In that way, palliative care becomes so ingrained in care, we don’t need the specialty.
Constance Dahlin is one of 30 individuals who have been named a Visionary in Hospice and Palliative Medicine by AAHPM for their 30th Anniversary in 2018. Learn more about the Visionary recognition and view a list of all current and past Visionaries.