Sophomore Seminars

Cultivate a Compassionate Presence at the Bedside: An Aging and End-of-Life Care Practicum



This course has been cancelled for this academic year.

This is a Community Engaged Learning Course for undergraduate students. This course is designed to prepare students to critically examine values, attitudes, and contexts that govern perspectives toward and engagement of patients within the context of aging and end of life. The course prepares students to responsibly and reflectively interact with aging and seriously ill patients in a mentored setting. Using a bio-psycho-socio-spiritual-cultural framework, students learn about the history, evolution, principles and practice of geriatrics and palliative care. Students will be exposed to the challenges faced by patients from diverse backgrounds and their caregivers.

The class has a strong practicum aspect by which students will be trained to cultivate a compassionate and healing presence at the bedside of the patient. After completing formal volunteer training, each student will be assigned a small panel of patients. Students will work with an inter-disciplinary team, conduct regular house calls on patients in their panel, and write progress notes, which will become a part of the patients' electronic medical records. Through mentored fieldwork, students will learn the basic competencies of communicating with older adults from diverse backgrounds in a respectful and compassionate manner. Students will be taught to discuss their panel of patients in class every week using the standard medical clinical rounds approach. Weekly assignments will help students reflect on their interactions with the patients and lessons they learned. Our goal is to train future leaders in the fields of healthcare, law, sociology, public policy, and humanities in the vital area of aging and end-of-life care for diverse Americans.

Please note: This IntroSem is a Cardinal Course. Students who enroll in MED 51Q will be working directly with patients. As a prerequisite for patient-care, all students (a) must complete TB testing, HIPAA training, patient safety training, and background check; (b) must be able to perform the physical activities required for patient care which includes the ability to frequently stand, walk, twist, bend, stoop, squat and occasionally lift, carry, push, and pull objects that weigh up to 40 pounds and assist patients into their wheelchairs and take them on walks. All tests required will be provided free of cost and have to be completed with specific agencies affiliated with Stanford. Failure to complete paperwork will result in student being dropped from the class. Professor Periyakoil will send more specific directions after students are enrolled in MED 51Q.

Meet the Instructor(s)

VJ Periyakoil, Geriatrics, Hospice & Palliative Medicine

Dr. VJ Periyakoil is an associate professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. She is the director of the Stanford Palliative Care Education & Training Program, and the founding director of the Stanford Aging, Geriatrics and Ethnogeriatrics (SAGE) transdisciplinary collaborative center. Her research focuses on multicultural health for older adults with chronic and serious illnesses, use of social media, and mobile health and training interventions.