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Welcome to The Conversation Project

By Kathryn Crimmins | Wednesday, August 22, 2012

You may have heard about “The Conversation Project” once or twice by now – maybe in an email or on your Twitter feed. You may know that it has something to do with end-of-life care and respecting everyone’s own wishes. This post will explain to you exactly what it is and why, as a student, it’s worth your attention and passion.


First off, what is The Conversation Project?

The Conversation Project, founded by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Ellen Goodman and launched in collaboration with the IHI, is a national campaign to promote awareness of how important it is to talk with your family and other loved ones about preferences for care at the end of life. By sparking cultural change at the kitchen table — not in the intensive care unit — The Conversation Project hopes it will become easier for people to express their end-of-life wishes in advance and have them respected when the time comes.


Okay, so why does it exist?

Too many people die in a manner not of their choosing. The Conversation Project wants to change that through a public campaign to encourage open and honest discussions among families and friends. The Conversation Project’s campaign is a personal, story-based initiative driven by social media that will allow people to share their experiences on the project website, so that others can better appreciate the benefits of expressing their own wishes for end-of-life care. The website also offers guidance, tools, and resources, including a Conversation Starter Kit, to help people talk with their loved ones. 


Why should I get involved?

As a health professional student, you, more than others in society, are going to have to deal with death in your career. You’re going to have to be sure that the wishes of your patients are heard and respected. You’re going to have to give care that is centered on the people in the hospital beds, in the ICU, and in the waiting rooms. And you’re going to have to be comfortable having these very difficult conversations.


As a human being, you are going to have to deal with death in your life. There’s no better time than now to have the conversation.


How can I get involved?

There are lots of ways, but let’s highlight four for now:

1.       Have the conversation. No matter your age or your health status, we urge you to sit down with your loved ones and talk about end-of-life care. What are your wishes? What do you parents want? How about your grandparents? Have the conversation at the kitchen table – so you have the answers when the time comes.

2.       Visit The Conversation Project website. At the top of the page, you’ll see a content box asking you to complete the sentence, “I want mine to be …” Share your wishes and join the hundreds of people that already have. And, if you’re willing, link the page to Facebook and let your friends know that you are part of this project. While you’re at the site, watch Ellen Goodman’s introduction video, and read and download the Conversation Starter Kit that will help you get started.

3.       Watch out for The Conversation Project on an ABC World News Tonight broadcast sometime this fall. ABC News is a digital media partner on the project and is helping to bring this important topic into the public spotlight.

4.       Spread the word. Tell your family, friends, professors, classmates, and colleagues about The Conversation Project.  Ask them to visit the site and get involved.

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