AAHPM Visionary Joan M. Teno, MD MS

Joan M. Teno, MD MS
Professor of Medicine, Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, University of Washington, WA

Who has most influenced your work and what impact has she had?
Two persons strongly shaped the last three decades of my research.  Dame Cicely Saunders stated at the 30th anniversary of the founding of St. Christopher’s Hospice in London, “We have never lost sight of the values that were so important to David: commitment to openness, openness to challenge, and the absolute priority of patients’ own views on what they need.” What is so important about hospice and palliative medicine is a person- and family-centered holistic approach to care. In the creation of surveys to examine the consumer experience of quality of care, we have embraced the notion that dying persons and those family that cared for them were critical to judge the quality of care.

The second person that greatly shape my research was a focus group participant. Her response to the question on what was important to measuring the quality of hospice care was, “you know what to expect, how you can help, and what you can expect.”  Those words shaped the writing of key survey items in CAHPS Hospice Survey. Important to improving the quality of care for seriously ill and dying is supporting caregivers who now, in an aging society, are being asked to take on important and increasingly complex role in providing care to persons with multiple illnesses and a prolonged period of functional dependency. We must not forget about the true unsung heroes – family who take care of seriously ill persons.

What does it mean to be named a Visionary in Hospice and Palliative Medicine?
I am honored and especially thankful for the wonderful persons that I have worked with over the last 3 decades. Research is a team effort.  I have been very fortunate to work with colleagues who are passionate about making things better.

What is your vision for future of Hospice and Palliative Medicine?
We need to stay focused on the needs of seriously ill persons and their family.  We need to innovate and be open to challenging convention.  Now in 2018, focus and persistence are going to be key as we focus on providing care to persons with multimorbidity whose disease trajectory may not fit the Medicare Hospice Benefit cancer disease trajectory of the 1980s.

Joan M. Teno, MD MS 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.

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