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Physician Assisted Death: Impact on Social Work Practice

Liz Blackler, LCSW-R, MBE and Carolyn Fulton, LCSW
Recorded on September 15, 2015

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About the Webinar

Mainstream news and social media coverage of the human interest aspects of physician assisted death have launched considerable debate in both the public sphere and the medical community. This course will define and explore the nuances of physician assisted death, look at state-by-state rulings and identify the differences between court mandates and state law mandates.

The course facilitators will lead an open discussion/dialogue designed to help clinical social workers identify and unpack personal feelings, beliefs and preferences associated with physician assisted death. Tools for working with patients, families and staff will be identified.

Learning Objectives

At the end of the presentation, the participant will be able to:

  • Define and discuss the nuances of physician assisted death including the differences between mandates by state law and court ruling.
  • Describe the impact new PAD rulings has on personal beliefs and preferences and how it impacts therapeutic relationships and social work practice.
  • List tools and strategies to help social workers support patients in their discussions of personal anxieties surrounding physical suffering at the end of life and understand the complexities of these feelings, even if living in a state where physician assisted death is illegal.

About the Presenters

Liz Blackler, LCSW-R, MBE, is a senior clinical social worker with experience working with the thoracic, melanoma and sarcoma populations at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She provides supportive counseling to patients and families along the illness trajectory with an emphasis on anticipatory grief. In addition, Ms. Blackler helps patients and families navigate the conflicts and ethical concerns that can arise around end-of-life, including the use of life-sustaining treatments; enhancing their communication with the medical team; and identifying any cultural, spiritual and social barriers to the provision of care. Ms. Blackler is also a member of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Ethics Committee and Ethics Consultation Service.

Ms. Blackler received a master’s degree in bioethics from Albert Einstein College of Medicine –Benjamin Cardozo School of Law and a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University. She has trained at the Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies in New York City. She is the recipient of the NASW NYC Emerging Social Work Leader award.

Carolyn Fulton, LCSW, has been a practicing social work for the last 14 years, with a focus on clinical oncology since 2003. She joined Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in 2009, and works with the in-patient GI Medical Oncology Service. Ms. Fulton also serves as the Social Work Coordinator for MSKCC’s Family Therapy Clinic. For the last 10 years, she has supervised and provided field instruction to second year MSW students during their internships. Prior to joining MSKCC, she worked for 5 years at CancerCare; a national non-profit organization providing individual and support group counseling to patients, caregivers, survivors and the bereaved.

Ms. Fulton has expertise in family and couple therapy, and graduated from the Ackerman Institute for the Family’s externship program. She received her master’s degree in social work from New York University, and her bachelor’s degree in social work from Southeastern Louisiana University. She has a particular interest in understanding the many complexities of end-of-life care, exploring how to best keep families connected as one transitions towards end-of-life. Her passion in assisting the young adult population, specifically regarding end-of-life care, has afforded her opportunities to speak at the Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW) Annual Conference, Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network Conference, the American Family Therapy Academy, and to departments throughout Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Continuing Education Credits

Level - Intermediate - Ethics 
Participants will earn 1.5 CE credits upon successful completion of a quiz and a post-webinar evaluation.