PeaceHealth St. Joseph, Western Washington University Partner on Palliative Care Workshop ‘Transforming Difficult Conversations’ Feb. 7


​The Western Washington University (WWU) RN-to-BSN program, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center and Whatcom health care organizations are partnering to sponsor a palliative care conference on Friday, Feb. 7 at Bellingham Technical College.

“Transforming Difficult Conversations” is a workshop regarding planning for end-of-life care designed for patients and families, physicians, nurses, social workers, physical therapists, other allied health professionals, caregivers and interested community members. Participants will learn strategies for enhancing communication skills between patients, families and providers to help build a community for those living with serious illness.

Rachelle Bernacki, MD, director of Quality Initiatives in the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, is the keynote speaker. She will present “A Structured Approach to the End of Life Conversation, based on Susan Block and Atul Gawande's The Checklist Manifesto.” In addition to Bernacki’s talk on end-of- life conversations, the conference will also include a variety of presentations from leading health care providers and educators, small group exercises, and community conversations.

“Everyone will eventually live with a chronic health condition, have limited function, or face death, for themselves or a loved one. Opening up honest conversations is an important step toward providing a space where people with serious illnesses don’t have to be cured to heal,” said Casey Shillam, director of Western’s RN-to-BSN program.

“Dr. Bernacki is a leader in this field, and we are lucky that our community will be one of the first venues in the country where this cutting edge work will be presented” said Bree Johnston, MD, MPH, medical director of PeaceHealth’s Palliative Care program.

The event is sponsored by The Palliative Care Initiative (PCI) which is a partnership with WWU, Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement (WAHA), Community Organized Group for Health, PeaceHealth Palliative Care, and PeaceHealth’s Whatcom Hospice. The PCI has been formed to transform palliative care in the Whatcom community and support the human responses to living and dying. 

Registration for this event is available online. Early registration is advised as seating is limited. Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits are available for a nominal fee. Registration deadline for this event is Friday, Jan. 24. For more information, please visit