Health Care Administration Students Traveled to Hear World-Renowned Palliative Care Physician

A large group picture of Health Care Administration students with Dr BJ Miller

Story submitted by Ekta Singh, Professor, Health Care Administration 

On October 13, Capstone Research students from SLC’s Health Care Administration (HCA) program travelled with professor Ekta Singh to the Carleton Dominion Chalmers Centre in Ottawa to see the world-renowned palliative care physician, author, and counsellor Dr. BJ Miller.

Dr. Miller is a palliative care physician at the University of California, San Francisco Cancer Center. He was the executive director of San Francisco's Zen Hospice Project from 2011 to 2016 and is best known for his 2015 TED Talk, "What Really Matters at the End of Life." Dr. Miller is also co-author of the new book "A Beginner's Guide To The End: Practical Advice For Living Life And Facing Death," and he started a new project, the Center for Dying and Living. Now in its early stage, it is a web site designed for people to share their own stories related to living with illness, disability and loss or caring for those who are.

The event was hosted by Beth Donovan Hospice, and the opportunity for SLC students to attend the event was made possible through the support of the Executive Director, Ms. Sue Walker, who generously provided discounted tickets for SLC students and arranged for students to have a personal “meet and greet” with Dr. Miller.

Students enjoyed a wonderful evening of learning and reflection about palliative care, spirituality in end of lifecare, embracing grief leading with empathy, understanding the beautiful connection between caregiving and care receiving, surrendering to the flow of life, and ultimately an invitation to change the way they think about dying.

“It was a great privilege to see Dr. BJ Miller ‘up close and personal’ and hear him talk about one of the most important conversations in health care. End-of-life care is a very relevant issue for health care administration students like me. It helped me think more critically and acknowledge my biases about death, dying, suffering, and palliative care. It was enlightening to hear from someone with a lived experience of suffering, each powerful contrasting concept – curing/healing, being whole/being fixed, more wonderful/less horrible. Most importantly, I was reminded of empathy. And what it is, according to Dr. Miller, is to simply ‘show up as a human being,’” said Sharon Borromeo, a Family Physician from the Philippines and a third semester HCA student.

Many of the HCA Capstone Research teams are investigating best practices and innovations in palliative care and this professional development experience provided students with the firsthand opportunity to engage in active, deep learning about these topics, while learning and connecting with one of the best palliative care leaders in the world.

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