The inaugural cohort of palliative care fellows trained in Louisiana graduates from Tulane University School of Medicine this week. The five doctors are the first to have completed all of their palliative care medicine training here in the state, and all five hope to remain in Louisiana to continue their careers.
“When I came back to Tulane in 2017, there were just a handful of people in the whole state who were board certified to provide palliative care,” said Dr. Marcia Glass, associate professor of internal medicine and program director of the Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship.
Glass worked to get the program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the first fellows began training part time in 2019. The doctors played a vital role during the worst months of the pandemic.
“Fellows have finished residency, so they can work independently and see patients on their own and in clinics,” Glass said. “During COVID, they worked in the ICU handling a wide variety of situations with patients and their families.”
Palliative care is for patients with life-limiting illnesses. Not to be confused with hospice care, palliative medicine can provide comfort and better quality of life to people dealing with serious chronic health issues, such as incurable cancer.
Dr. Geraldine Menard, associate professor of medicine and section chief of general internal medicine and geriatrics, sponsored Tulane’s fellowship program.
“Tulane’s program will serve as a community pipeline and generate palliative care physicians for generations to come,” Menard said. “We have a major presence at University Medical Center and the New Orleans VA medical center, both now providing focused palliative care programs with a goal of expanding to all three of our major teaching hospitals within the next year”
The graduating fellows are Drs. Ryan Basquez, Chris Joplin, Kiruba Vembu, Dana Muhlfelder and Jon McCall. Congratulations to them and the entire Class of 2021.