Yale Physician Receives Faculty Scholars Award From The Project On Death In America Award Will Help Improve End-Of-Life Care For AIDS Patients

October 17, 1997

Award Will Help Improve End-of-Life Care for AIDS Patients

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Oct. 21, 1997--Peter Selwyn, M.D., M.P.H., associate director of the AIDS program and associate professor of medicine at Yale University, is one of 12 physicians to receive the Faculty Scholars Award from the Open Society Institute's Project on Death in America (PDIA). Dr. Selwyn joins a total of 38 scholars from 25 medical schools and 35 medical institutions in the U.S. and Canada, who have been honored with PDIA Faculty Scholars Awards in the past.

Dr. Selwyn will use the award to develop curricula on end-of-life care at Yale University School of Medicine, and help develop a model clinical program at Leeway, a 30-bed skilled nursing facility for people with HIV and AIDS in New Haven. Dr. Selwyn, who is also Leeway's medical director, will receive up to $65,000 for up to a three-year period from PDIA. He is grateful for the organization's support of his work.

"Despite recent advances in therapy, the AIDS epidemic is still affecting people in the prime of their lives with a life-threatening illness," says Dr. Selwyn. "This grant allows me to improve and develop new strategies for end-of-life care and to help increase awareness about this important area of medicine for doctors in training."

Dr. Selwyn, who has dedicated a significant part of his career to working with AIDS patients, points out that there is a need to prevent patients from experiencing unnecessary suffering or inappropriate treatments as their lives come to a close.

"It is also especially critical for doctors to help patients with AIDS and their families come to terms with issues of loss, legacy and survivorship, as they face the end of life," says Dr. Selwyn. "People with AIDS are dying, in a sense, 'before their time,' and they require a unique kind of care." Dr. Selwyn and Nancy Angoff, M.D., M.P.H, Yale '90, assistant clinical professor of medicine, are co-chairs of a curriculum committee at Yale School of Medicine to help implement changes to the curriculum in the area of death and dying. They are also co-chairing a parallel committee to examine and help enhance palliative care services at Yale New-Haven Hospital.

The Open Society Institute's Project on Death in America is a nationwide program aimed at advancing medical education, awareness and clinical care in end-of-life care. Dr. Selwyn and his colleagues are working to improve clinical outcomes for patients and their families and to create a greater understanding among care providers of the unique end-of-life issues that the world faces.

In addition, Dr. Selwyn has chronicled his experiences in a book of memoirs entitled Surviving the Fall: The Personal Journey of an AIDS Doctor. Yale University Press will publish it in spring, 1998.

"This book deals with my experiences in the early days of the AIDS epidemic when I worked in a large drug abuse treatment center at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York," says Dr. Selwyn. "The book also shows how my early encounters with the disease led me to examine my own 'unfinished business' about death and dying. This was very important for my growth as a physician and my work with dying patients."

Yale University School of Medicine

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