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Chatham Receives Grant to Foster Interfaith Cooperation

Chatham University has been awarded a $4,000 grant from the Interfaith Youth  Core to foster interfaith dialogue, cooperation and inclusivity on campus.  This grant will provide funding for various interfaith events (including Chatham’s Multi-Faith Series and a tour of religious organizations around Pittsburgh), staff and student training on religious and nonreligious identities and to help to incorporate religious diversity themes into Chatham’s Global Focus Program.

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Pennsylvania Center for Women & Politics Hosts NEW Leadership 2018

PITTSBURGH– The Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics (PCWP) at Chatham University held the annual National Education for Women’s (NEW) Leadership™ Pennsylvania program, a weeklong (June 3-June 8) intensive institute for women college students focused on the role of women in politics and policy making in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. NEW Leadership 2018 brought over 40 students from 26 different colleges and universities across Pennsylvania to the Chatham University campus.

The program cultivates the next generation of young women leaders, and is modeled after a program established by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. The program features such topics as leadership in a diverse society, current and historical approaches to women’s participation in politics, networking with Pennsylvania women leaders, and the development of action skills in advocacy and leadership.

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Chatham Receives CIC/AARP Grant to Assist Older Adults

PITTSBURGH:  Chatham University is pleased to announce that it is one of a select group of 22 institutions across the nation chosen by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) to receive a grant in the amount of $13,000 to implement a CIC/AARP Foundation Intergenerational Connections: Students Serving Older Adults project, Food Story/Food Secure: Building Community Through Food-Centered Partnerships.

Assistant Professor of English, Carrie Tippen, Ph.D., will serve as the Principal Investigator for this grant, which will be used to enhance connections between undergraduate students and older adults in the community. CIC launched this initiative with support from the AARP Foundation in 2017 to encourage colleges to create or extend programs in which students help low-income older adults (ages 50 and older) address their key needs.

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Getting a little more comfortable with death and dying

Last winter, Victoria Kissell, MPAS ’18, was able to added a facet to her education that not many physician assistants are able to claim.

“We don’t learn how to deal with death in school,” she says. “Because we’re focused on making people better, we tend to push it aside, even though it’s inevitable. Through the Jewish Healthcare Foundation’s Fellowship in Death and Dying, I was able to talk to people who handle it every day, so that if I do have a patient who is terminally ill, I’m more comfortable talking about it.”

Participants meet as a group weekly to discuss readings and perform role plays, and then visit hospitals and other sites where death and dying are not infrequent occurrences, including a hospice and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. They meet with members of teams who work with patients and families in terminal situations, including hospice and palliative care; social work; and religious support.

“It was interesting to see aspects of death that come into play when it’s a child as opposed to an adult,” says Victoria, “such as who has the right to make decisions about prolonging care. A lot of times, patients—including kids—better understand what’s going on, or have an easier time accepting it than the families, who are the ones pushing for more treatment, and feeling resistance to palliative care and hospice teams stepping in.”

“When people hear hospice and palliative care, they think death,” she continues. “But we learned to push hospice and palliative care as more about improving quality of life than sentencing to death.

We’re not telling families their loved ones are going to die; we’re telling them that we’re going to do everything we can to make them comfortable and live the rest of their days happy, and the way that they want to.”

Victoria feels that the Fellowship has helped her communicate in non-terminal scenarios, too. “Some diseases such as diabetes, depression, or hypertension are difficult for patients to handle,” she says. “They may feel like a death sentence. Patients don’t want to be labeled, or burden their families. I think this training has helped me communicate with patients about these conditions. There’s no reason these patients can’t live long and prosperous lives, as long as their condition is well managed.”

The Fellowship paid off sooner than Victoria might have expected. “On my very first rotation, I had my first patient pass away,” she says. “It was like I was watching the program come to life. Once his cancer was discovered, his family couldn’t understand why we weren’t treating him with chemotherapy and radiation, but he understood that his body wouldn’t be able to handle the treatment. The palliative care team was on board, after a lot of work convincing the family, but not the hospice team because the time went too quickly. The family didn’t want to ‘give up’, but to see the transition care go from aggressive to supportive was amazing.”

“One of the most moving things I learned from the program was something a hospice nurse coordinator said at Children’s,” says Victoria. “She said ‘If you’re going to work with death every day, you better remember to live’. I think that’s important in medicine in general.”

Jewish Healthcare Fellowships are open to all graduate students in Chatham’s School of Health Sciences. Learn more.

The Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) program at Chatham University provides academic and clinical training that will prepare its graduates to be certified and licensed to practice as extenders to the practicing physician, especially the primary care physician, in a competent and reliable manner.