Consensus-Based Recommendations for an Adequate Workforce to Care for People with Serious Illness


Joanne Spetz and Nancy Dudley

May 10, 2019

The lack of an adequately prepared workforce is a critical barrier to delivering high-quality community-based care for individuals living with serious illness. This article presents 16 consensus-based recommendations to improve the capacity of the workforce in this area within the next 5 years, focusing on older adults. The recommendations were developed at a summit of 40 national leaders from practice, payment, labor, advocacy, and research arenas.

The consensus-based recommendations include specific steps for geriatrics leaders:

  • Curriculum reforms to increase skills in the care of older and seriously ill populations
  • Expanding experiential learning opportunities for students to increase interest in careers in geriatric and palliative care
  • Developing and improving curriculum in interprofessional and cultural competency skills
  • Preparing clinicians to support incorporation of home care aides and family caregivers as health care team members
  • Development of skills to support shared decision making with patients
  • Requiring specific skills related to serious illness care in licensing, accreditation, and continuing education regulations.

Together, these recommendations put forward a charge to health care leaders to act to ensure a workforce that will optimize support for those with serious illness living in the community.