A pediatrician taking part in a National Institutes of Health (NIH) fellowship at Charles E. Smith Life Communities (CESLC) gained new perspectives on serving those at the other end of the age spectrum.
“I don’t believe I really knew what to expect simply because of my background,” says Dr. Sudha Chandrasekhar, who recently spent a month at the Rockville senior living community’s Hebrew Home of Greater Washington through the NIH Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship.
Chandrasekhar, who has a pediatrics practice in Arizona, found the experience a way to expand skills and reframe her philosophy as a physician. She notes that “to help someone live well is a privilege, but to help someone die well is a gift. To be able to be that gift in someone’s life is something very special.”
The NIH fellowship is designed for candidates with academic and clinical career goals in hospice and palliative medicine. Participants care for patients with various diagnoses in both research and community settings, learning holistic approaches to palliative medicine and long-term hospice care.
Dr. Sharon Kim, who participates in the NIH fellowship “to gain the knowledge and experience required to support patients through various stages of their disease process and help improve their quality of life,” says her time at CESLC allowed her to learn about older adults’ varying needs. “I very much enjoyed hearing about each resident’s life and appreciated their openness to share their stories with me.”
The senior living community’s partnership with the fellowship program began in 2016 and takes place two months a year. Two fellowship participants each spend a month at the senior living community full-time.
“Our involvement in the fellowship reflects our focus on community service and our commitment to the future of excellent care for older adults,” says Elisa Gil-Pires, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Charles E. Smith Life Communities and site director for fellowship participants.
Founded in 1910, Charles E. Smith Life Communities is a nonprofit organization serving more than 1,100 older adults in multiple residences situated on a 38-acre campus in Rockville, Maryland. CESLC’s services include post-acute care and long-term skilled nursing care at Hebrew Home of Greater Washington; independent living at Revitz House and Ring House; assisted living at Landow House; memory care at Cohen-Rosen House; geriatric medical care at Hirsh Health Center; and temporary shelter and advocacy for victims of elder abuse at the ElderSAFE™ Center. www.smithlifecommunities.org.