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Alyssa Tilly, MD (Credit: Open Medical Institute Taste of Palliative Medicine)

Alyssa Tilly, MD, assistant professor in the division of general medicine and clinical epidemiology, and director of palliative care for the UNC Project Malawi Cancer Program, was recently invited to contribute to a palliative medicine course in Austria. Practitioner participants represented 17 countries. She discussed her experience in a recent interview.

How were you chosen for the seminar?

Dr. Frank Ferris, the course director, is a mentor of mine. Dr. Gary Winzelberg connected us when I was a Hospice and Palliative Medicine fellow back in 2018 given my interest in global palliative medicine, and I have been fortunate enough to now have joined Dr. Ferris in several international palliative medicine teaching seminars. The prior ones have been all virtual and this was my first time to join him in person.

Alyssa Tilly, MD, with other educators at the palliative medicine seminar. (Credit: Open Medical Institute Taste of Palliative Medicine)

What did you contribute to the seminar?

I served as a small group facilitator for most of the sessions and as a large group lecturer for one session. The seminar is predominately done in small group sessions so as to encourage individual participation.

Alyssa Tilly, MD, leading a small group discussion. (Credit: Open Medical Institute Taste of Palliative Medicine)

Why was it important to participate?

Palliative Medicine is formally recognized as a specialty here in the US but not in many countries throughout the world where there is reduced capacity to provide Palliative Medicine for many patients living with serious illnesses. This seminar brought together 38 physicians from 17 different countries, many of which have limited access to Palliative Medicine. Participating in a seminar like this is important to share Palliative Medicine knowledge so that advocates may be equipped with additional skills and support to further Palliative Medicine in their own countries.

What made you choose Palliative Medicine?

Palliative Medicine seeks to take a holistic approach to the care of patients living with serious illnesses, aiming to help provide them with care that aligns with their goals and values. The opportunity to reduce suffering through hearing patients and their families’ stories is a true privilege and made Palliative Medicine feel like the right career choice.

The Open Society Foundation sponsored the Taste of Palliative Medicine which brought expert faculty members from the USA and Europe to Salzburg to teach fellows the best practices in Palliative Care. Learn more.