Difficult Conversations Podcast

Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician

Episode 128 | January 26, 2021

Conversations about End of Life

Dr. Karen Knops

Hospice & Palliative Medicine Specialist

Karen Knops

Welcome to the Difficult Conversations with Dr. Anthony Orsini. Today, I am blessed to have my friend and guest, Dr. Karen Knops, who is the Medical Director of Palliative Care Services at Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue, Washington. She is also the creator of programs designed to improve the experience of patients with serious illness. After completing her fellowship training at Stanford University, she went to New Jersey where she lead the division of Palliative and Supportive Care for a six hundred bed teaching hospital. Dr. Knops has created onsite training programs for Physicians and other healthcare professionals. She has been recognized as a top doctor in Palliative Care Medicine in New Jersey and Seattle, where she now lives. She is a passionate advocate for improving patient and clinician experience and compassion in healthcare. Dr. Orsini keeps his promise about two things, that you will feel inspired, and you will have learned valuable lessons to be a better and more compassionate communicator.

Karen shares her personal story of when she was a child with scoliosis, and what drew her into medicine. She tells us about the experience she had with her Orthopedic Surgeon and the challenges she had as a teenage girl. Dr. Orsini shares a little story about the seizure disorder he had as a child and why he’s so dedicated to try to make his patients’ lives a little bit less gray. Karen shares a great story about someone that she learned from that shaped who she wanted to be. She also tells us about a hospice nurse that she spent only two days with that really inspired her to enter Palliative Care. Karen tells us her approach when she goes into a room to have an end of life conversation with a family and gives some tips to clinicians. She explains some key techniques for demonstrating trust and compassion, which are permission, paraphrasing, and preview. Dr. Orsini tells us when you have difficult conversations with people and you do them correctly, it’s a real gift to the family to feel that connection instantly. The techniques that you use for end of life and breaking bad news really work for everyday life and everyday medicine, and Karen tells us the biggest thing she’s learned and the biggest takeaway she had in training. Karen will be back again on a future episode to talk about her A-S-C-E-N-D Acronym and program for communication, so you don’t want to miss that. If you enjoyed this podcast, please hit the subscribe button to find out more about what we do and how we teach communication. Go ahead and download this episode now!

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