The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast

End of Life

Erkeda DeRouen welcomes back Dr. Qiratulanne “Annie” Khan, who is a board certified and globally trained family physician. She also holds a master’s degree in public health. Today Erkeda chats with Dr. Khan about end of life care, her experience working with Navajo patients, and her preference for palliative care outside of the hospital.

  • [00:31] Dr. Khan’s Medical Journey and Background
  • [03:55] Memorable Experiences with End of Life Patients
  • [09:23] Diverse Cultural Meanings of Death and Quality of Life
  • [13:58] Communication of Prognosis
  • [21:19] Palliative Care at Home
  • [26:30] How to Gain Experience with End of Life Care
  • [31:35] Dr. Khan’s Advice to Pre-meds and Medical Students

Respecting Cultural Boundaries Surrounding Death

Dr. Khan is a big proponent of enabling patients to choose how they approach the last stage of their lives. It’s crucial for patients and their families to talk about advance directives. However, some cultures have different ways of dealing with illness and death. It’s also possible that they never even discuss such topics. As a physician, be mindful of the cultural nuances. Ask questions about your patient’s beliefs and what they know about the process. Have an open conversation about end of life care so that everyone can reach an amicable decision.

How to Deliver Bad News to Patients

Communicating a poor prognosis is always challenging for physicians. Medical training often focuses on diagnosis and treatment, without much instruction for how to deal with these delicate situations. Try to be empathetic to your patient’s condition and break the news in a way that you yourself would like to hear. Practice empathy and compassion but be truthful.

Experience End of Life Patient Care

A good place to start to understand end of life care is with advance directives. Familiarize yourself with the document. You can even try to fill it out. It’s also important to have knowledge of chronic illnesses and their end points. For a hands-on experience, you can shadow physicians and take an elective on palliative care. Don’t be shy to ask your preceptors about their own patient experiences to learn more. Take time to talk with patients so you can have a better understanding of what they’re going through.

Follow and reach out to Dr. Annie Khan on Instagram.

Got questions, feedback, or suggestions? Send a message to Dr. Erkeda DeRouen’s Instagram or MedSchoolCoach’s Instagram.

Erkeda DeRouen

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen is a graduate of Hampton University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, followed by completing medical school at the Boston University School of Medicine. She then completed residency at The University of Maryland Family and Community Medicine Program. After that, she worked at an underserved community health center, and currently is an Associate Medical Director of a telemedicine company. She recently became one of the first 1,000 lifestyle medicine certified physicians in the world! Her areas of interest include: health equity and eliminating health disparities, service of underserved populations, HIV management, transgender care, mentorship, and lifestyle medicine.

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