Emerging Leader Spotlight: Jane Schell, MD

What does it mean to be named an Emerging Leader in Hospice and Palliative Medicine?

I am truly humbled by this honor. The Academy has informed and shaped the landscape of hospice and palliative care nationally, and to be named an Emerging Leader in Hospice and Palliative Medicine speaks to the growth of kidney palliative care. As an Emerging Leader, I am committed to furthering the kidney palliative care mission through education and practice. As one of many palliative care clinicians passionate about improving the lives of patients with kidney disease, we are truly creating a community of clinicians skilled in delivering kidney palliative care.

Describe how you became interested in hospice and palliative medicine and who/what influenced your work?

 My journey into palliative care began as a I witness the suffering of those living and dying with kidney disease. As a first-year nephrology fellow, I will never forget the look of shock and disbelief when I suggested stopping dialysis in an elderly man dying from the complications of end stage renal disease. End stage renal disease carries a prognosis as grim as cancer, yet this patient and his family had never prepared for end of life. This experience inspired me to seek mentorship and expertise in palliative care and communication skills training. Under the mentorship of James Tulsky at Duke University, I studied the role of communication in preparing elderly patients for living with kidney disease and ultimately completed a hospice and palliative care fellowship. These experiences have informed my career passion to create and implement palliative care education to equip nephrology clinicians with the skills to deliver primary palliative care for patients with kidney disease.

What is your vision for the future of hospice and palliative medicine?

 My vision for the future of hospice and palliative medicine is one of opportunity and growth especially within non-cancer populations. Patients with kidney disease and other chronic illness have as great of a symptom burden and mortality as those with cancer. Yet access to palliative care for these patients is limited. My goal is for palliative care to be viewed as standard of care for patients living with kidney disease. This can only happen through scalable education and models of care that prepare nephrology clinicians to deliver primary palliative care, and when necessary have access to specialty palliative care services. I am so fortunate to be part of the efforts to make this vision a reality.

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