Cambia Health Foundation Announces $1.8 Million in Grants to Increase Nationwide Access to Palliative Care Through Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program

Program advances leadership and innovation for palliative care programs Americans want and need

Lisa Honebrink

(PORTLAND, Ore.)–-There is currently one palliative care medical professional per 1,200 people facing serious illness in the United States, creating tremendous gaps in person-focused care. To address this widening disparity and develop the next generation of palliative care leaders, Cambia Health Foundation today named the 10 physicians and nurses selected from around the nation for its 2016 Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program. This unique program awards each individual a two-year, $180,000 grant to fund research, clinical, educational or policy projects to advance palliative care. A national palliative care leader serves as a mentor to each Scholar, further broadening his or her learning and leadership development opportunities.
With the publication of the landmark, 2014 “Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life” from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program had already been developed and launched the same year to begin to redress the gaps in professional education and development the report outlined. While this palliative care leadership and workforce development program enters its third year, it is actually part of a nine-year focus on palliative care by the Foundation to date. Since 2007, Cambia Health Foundation has invested more than $27.4 million to help advance all five key recommendation areas outlined in “Dying in America.”
The Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program is already advancing leadership and innovation. In 2015, a special report on the impact of the program by the first cohort of Scholars was accepted and published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine,The Cambia Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program: Project Summaries from the Inaugural Scholar Cohort.”
With the addition of the 2016 cohort, there will be 30 specific palliative-care projects that align with the IOM goals, and scholars are making other important impacts as well.  Recently, Lynn Reinke, nurse, Ph.D., and member of the 2014 Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program cohort, was accepted to the Health and Aging Policy Fellows Program, and named a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.  And Zara Cooper, a physician from the 2015 cohort, received The Paul B. Beeson Emerging Leaders Career Development Award in Aging.

“As we approach the third year of this program, we could not be more excited about the caliber of participants, their projects and the impact these physicians and nurses are having on the field of palliative care,” said Peggy Maguire, president and board chair, Cambia Health Foundation. “This program exemplifies Cambia Health Foundation’s commitment to empowering Americans to take charge of their health care and have their wishes and goals of care heard and respected, especially when facing a serious illness.”
Millions of Americans are diagnosed with serious and chronic illness. Nearly two-thirds of Americans have had a personal or family experience with palliative care, end-of-life care, or hospice care; however, only half of those respondents say they were prepared for the experience.
Also, physicians indicate they need more training. In April 2016, Cambia Health Foundation, The John A. Hartford Foundation and California Health Care Foundation released results of a poll of 736 primary care and specialist physicians in all 50 states, to gauge their attitudes and frequency of engaging in advance-care planning and end-of-life conversations. The survey, “Conversation Stopper: What’s Preventing Physicians from Talking with Patients about End-of-Life and Advance Care Planning?”, showed most (75%) believe they are responsible for initiating these conversations. However, many said they are unsure about how to handle the discussions.
The Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program is working to filling these gaps by developing the next generation of palliative care physicians and nurses. The wide variety of palliative care projects supported by the 2016 Sojourns Scholars Leadership Program will build on the groundbreaking work of the 2014 and 2015 cohorts to improve care and quality of life for patients of all ages facing a variety of serious illnesses. Other Scholars’ projects focus on the patients’ families and caregivers, and some on training the social workers and chaplains who provide the extra layer of support that’s key to quality palliative care.
The 2016 Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program Grant Recipients:
● Brook Calton, Physician, University of California, San Francisco, Promoting the Growth and Impact of Home-Based Palliative Care
● Constance Dahlin, Nurse Practitioner, Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, The Palliative Care Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Externship: A National Model
● Susan DeSanto-Madeya, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Boston College, Interdisciplinary Palliative Care Certificate Program
● DorAnne Donesky, Nurse Practitioner, University of California, San Francisco, Interprofessional Center for Palliative Care Education
● Joshua Lakin, Physician, Dana Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, Bringing Interdisciplinary Work to Primary Palliative Care Communication Interventions
● Eric Roeland, Physician, Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health, A Prospective Study to Correlate Cross-Sectional Computed Tomography Skeletal Muscle Loss with Functional Activity in Metastatic Cancer Patients on Chemotherapy
● Justin Sanders, Physician, Dana Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, Understanding Goal-Concordant Care to Address End-of-Life Disparities
● Jennifer S. Scherer, Physician, NYU School of Medicine, Kidney CARES (Comprehensive Advanced Renal and End Stage Renal Disease Support) Program: Implementation and Pilot Study of an Outpatient Interdisciplinary Renal Palliative Care Program
● Anne Walling, Physician, University of California, Los Angeles, Improving Palliative Care within Outpatient Oncology Clinics through Innovative Financial Models and Culture Change
● Brie Williams, Physician, University of California, San Francisco, Leveraging Compassionate Release Reform to Advance Palliative Care for Seriously Ill Prisoners 
Learn more about each individual at Sojourns Scholars Profiles.
Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program National Advisory Committee 
  • Chair: Steve Pantilat, MD, FAAHPM, SFHM, Director of UCSF Palliative Care Program, University of California, San Francisco
  • Randy Curtis, MD, MPH, Director, University of Washington Palliative Care Center of Excellence
  • Patricia Davidson, PhD, MEd, FAAN, Dean, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing
  • Betty Ferrell, PhD, MA, FAAN, FPCN, Director and Professor, City of Hope
  • Jean Kutner, MD, MSPH, Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Chief Medical Officer, University of Colorado Hospital

About Cambia Health Foundation 
Based in Portland, Oregon, Cambia Health Foundation is the corporate foundation of Cambia Health Solutions, a total health solutions company dedicated to transforming the way people experience health care. Cambia Health Foundation is a 501(c)(3) grant-making organization that strategically invests and partners with organizations regionally and nationally to advance palliative care quality, access and understanding; improve the mental and behavioral health of underserved children; and transform health care to a more person-focused, equitable and economically sustainable system. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter.