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The EPEC Program developed its core curriculum and its specialty adaptations with the support of peer-reviewed grant funding. Since that time, EPEC has evolved into an ongoing, self-sustaining program with national and international reach. Committed to continuous quality improvement, EPEC uses feedback from current participants to better meet the needs and goals of future participants.
The ‘Become and EPEC Trainer’ Conference, which was initiated in 1999, is held annually and is taught by EPEC master facilitators. In addition to learning palliative care skills and competencies, participants are also taught effective methods of adult education. Each participant receives the curriculum, slides, videos, and teaching tips that will enable them to disseminate the curriculum at their local organizations. Some professionals who had received training at the core conferences also wanted to augment their teaching skills and expressed an interest in becoming master facilitators. In response to these needs, EPEC initiated an annual Professional Development Workshop, which has its own defined curriculum that focuses on teaching skills and practice improvement.
Dissemination of the EPEC curriculum and of the program’s initial training efforts were evaluated by an external group one year after the program began. Published results indicated that 90% of trainers were actively using the EPEC curriculum to teach others; a sample indicated that 184 of the initial trainers were estimated to have taught 120,000 other professionals. Today there are more than 2,000 EPEC trainers in the United States and 16 other countries. Extrapolating from this data, it is estimated that the EPEC curriculum has reached over one million end-learners.
The next step was to adapt the EPEC curriculum to an online distance learning format suited to an individual learner’s schedule. Originally released in 2003, EPEC’s distance learning system was recently updated to include the latest technology and a more highly interactive e-learning structure. Now available at EPEC’s website, distance learning allows health care professionals to access the EPEC curriculum in a format that is convenient and flexible. To learn more about distance learning, please visit our Program Design page.
In recent years, EPEC has collaborated with many partners to create adaptations of the original curriculum in order to expand the scope and range of palliative care by introducing it into new settings and broadening the definition to include the entire spectrum of illness. The program also advocates referring patients for palliative care earlier in the disease process. Our medical specialty curricula include EPEC - Oncology, EPEC - Emergency Medicine, EPEC - Long Term Care, EPEC for Veterans and, (currently in production) EPEC - Pediatrics. We have also sought to extend the EPEC model by working with partners to adapt our curriculum to the needs of specific populations. This effort has led to the development of projects such as APPEAL (A Progressive Palliative Care Education Curriculum for the Care of African Americans at Life’s End); EPEC - Roman Catholic; EPEC - Caregiver (communication and navigation topics for patients and family caregivers); and EPEC - India.
The most recent enhancement to the EPEC curriculum is the Tailored Implementation Practice Standards (TIPS) Kit. TIPS Kits are tools that provide guidance on how to implement a new clinical practice in a health care setting. Development of these TIPS Kits has begun based on modules selected from the EPEC - Emergency Medicine and EPEC for Veterans curricula.
During the next decade, the EPEC Program will continue to adapt and update its curriculum and continue to teach and support EPEC trainers. In addition to these traditional areas of focus, EPEC will also emphasize the expansion of distance learning and the development and dissemination of Tailored Implementation Practice Standards (TIPS) Kits.
EPEC’s goal is to reach an increasing number of individuals and institutions through the distance learning platform, including those who might otherwise not be exposed to the EPEC curriculum. Plans to achieve this goal include expanding the availability of specialty curricula and raising awareness of EPEC distance learning as an effective way to improve palliative care knowledge and practice.
Another way in which EPEC endeavors to improve palliative care is our TIPS Kits. TIPS Kits are advantageous because they prompt institutions to change and improve the standards of palliative care practice. Several TIPS Kits are currently under development, including those focused on EPEC - Core, EPEC - EM, and EPEC for Veterans.
“Yesterday, I had to speak to the wife and family of a patient who had a serious problem in the Recovery Room - all I could think about was how the role play helped me deal with it, and how well I was received by the family. All turned out well, and now the family thinks I hung the moon! What an immediate benefit. I cannot remember any meeting where the tools I learned were so easily incorporated into my practice and my teaching.”
James A. Ramsey, Vanderbilt School of Medicine
"I took EPEC in Charleston a few years ago. We use it all the time...it is the backbone of our education for physicians and for social workers."
Laurie Lybrand Busby, Roper St. Francis Healthcare
“Just back from India, and writing to say how impressed I am with EPEC - India. Congratulations.”
Robert Twycross, palliativedrugs.com Ltd.