The Academy continues and extends the work of the Conference, informing and educating clinicians about medical aid in dying, from clinical discussions to evidence-based knowledge, from nursing care to the work of volunteers at the bedside, from medical ethics to pharmacology, and more.
In the past few years, Oregon, Montana, Vermont and Washington were joined by California, Colorado, Hawaii, Washington, D.C., and, most recently, New Jersey and Maine, as states with legal access to medical aid in dying. Some 22% of the U.S. population now has access to medical aid in dying, so it has become a significant part of terminal patients’ end-of-life options. And patient requests to consider medical aid in dying as one option at the end of life have driven clinicians’ need to respond with support and knowledge.
A few practitioners most deeply involved in medical aid in dying have fielded an increasing number of questions and concerns from other providers urgently requesting practical information. And while there have been many gatherings to discuss medical aid in dying in policy and social terms, there has been little opportunity for clinicians to learn of evolving bedside practices.
Doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, clinical ethicists, pharmacists, hospices and more have been providing and managing this care without formal training or information sharing. They are craving knowledge of and training in best practices—everything from prognoses to pharmacology, from the role of hospice teams to evaluations of decision-making capacity, or what “self-administration” means in the real world. In short, there is now a significant need and demand for a formal organization to research, establish, and inform about best clinical practices for medical aid in dying. The American Clinicians Academy on Medical Aid in Dying, established on February 15, 2020, is increasingly taking on that role.
The Academy will be providing a Patient-to-Doctor Referral System; an Information Update and Discussion Listserv; a series of Video Interviews with leaders in the field discussing pressing issues and concerns; a Patient Information Portal; Research and Data Analysis; Resident and Medical Student Trainings; Certified Online Continuing Medical Education for Nurses, Social Workers and Physicians. As well, the Academy will be providing expert consultations for clinicians facing complex bedside decisions about medical aid in dying.
The first year of the Academy is funded by generous donations from patients, their families, and clinicians in the field, as well as the attendance fees and donations remaining from the highly successful National Clinicians Academy on Medical Aid in Dying. Membership in the Academy for the first year is without charge, and the Board of Advisors will be establishing fund-raising and fees for continued membership after February 15, 2021. Scholarships will be available for students and clinicians unable to pay the membership fees.
In short, the American Clinicians Academy on Medical Aid in Dying is now a reality, and we invite all who are interested to participate. Please join our Information Listserv for all updates.