New center to train compassionate health care professionals

Author: William G. Gilroy


A new University of Notre Dame center has been established to help ensure that future doctors, nurses and other health care professionals are trained to interact with patients with care and compassion.p. The Ruth M. Hillebrand Center for Compassionate Care will be affiliated with Notre Dames Walther Cancer Research Center and housed in the new South Bend Center for Medical Education, a joint project of the Indiana University School of Medicine and Notre Dame currently under construction at the gateway to the Notre Dame campus on Angela and Notre Dame Avenues.p. Ruth M. Hillebrand died in 1994, at the age of 67, from mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer. Hillebrand was aware of the importance of interpersonal skills in dealing with patients as a result of her work as a clinical psychologist in Manhattan, where she specialized in treating anorexia and bulimia. Her own experience with a specialist, whom she had met once, delivering the news of her terminal diagnosis during a late night perfunctory phone call, made her determined to help other patients avoid such devastating experiences.p. Ruths brother, Joseph Hillebrand, a 1943 Notre Dame graduate who died July 11, also from mesothelioma, established the Notre Dame center with funds from a trust Ruth developed to train health care professionals to compassionately communicate with patients. It was left to Mr. Hillebrands discretion where to support this work. He visited Notre Dame at the same time that it was gaining national recognition for its leadership in the field of compassionate patient care under the leadership of Rudolph Navari, director of the Walther Cancer Research Center.p. A key component of the Hillebrand Center for Compassionate Care is the videotaping of health care professionals interacting withstandardizedpatients who are trained to simulate medical conditions and illnesses. Professors later review the tapes to assess the studentsperformances and provide them with feedback.p. The training will be available for medical students, residents, fellows, physicians in training, practicing physicians, and Notre Dame undergraduate and graduate students interested in the medical field. Proficiency in oral communication skills recently has been established by the National Board of Medical Examiners as a requirement for medical school graduation in the United States.p. Joseph Hillebrand maintained a law practice in Toledo, Ohio, following his graduation from Notre Dame. The Hillebrand family has lived in Toledo for several generations.p. Contact: Rudolph M. Navari, director, Walther Cancer Research Center, 574-631-3793, . p. _ __ _

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