Integrative Medicine in Palliative and End of Life Care

Dates: Jan, 13 – Feb. 7, 2014
Instructor Dr. Kirsti Dyer


Course Description

Hospice, palliative and end-of-life care practitioners were among the earliest adopters of Integrative Medicine therapies; they utilized complementary therapies, or non-mainstream approaches, along with conventional medicine to create treatment plans that were best for their patients. Those seeing patients throughout the final stages of life have been more open to exploring other techniques and practices that can alleviate pain and manage uncomfortable symptoms at the end of life, to improve the quality of life.

Integrative Medicine is the field of study that makes use of, or integrates, all appropriate therapies both conventional and non-mainstream. It has been defined as “a healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle.” Some of the integrative medicine therapies used in palliative and end-of-life care include nutrition, acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga, aromatherapy, guided imagery, journaling, deep breathing, herbs, supplements and Reiki. Other complementary therapies utilized in hospice include meditation, hypnotherapy, prayer, touch, art, music and pet therapies.

Course Objectives

During “Integrative Medicine in Palliative and End-of-life Care” course participants will look at many of the evidence-based therapies and other therapies that are frequently used in palliative and end-of-life care to improve quality of life. Information on different Integrative Medicine therapies will be presented along with additional resources for further study.To earn continuing education credits, course participants are expected to complete assigned readings, case studies, join in the weekly discussions and take a final post-test for NASW’s CEU. In addition participants will be expected to contribute to a collaborative course resource list within the course, a place to share favorite online, print and video resources with colleagues.

About Your Instructor

Dr. Kirsti A. Dyer MD, MS, FT is a physician, professor, health educator, online instructor and author. She received her Medical and Master’s Degrees from the University of California, Davis. She was thefirst physician to receive Fellow in Thanatology (Death, Dying and Bereavement) standing with the Association of Death Education and Counseling following additional post-doctoral training in life challenges, loss, grief, bereavement and trauma, along with her personal experiences with NICU losses.

Dr. Dyer has an extensive list of professional, journal and online publications. She has developed and taught professional and graduate courses to physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, other health care providers, members of the clergy and spiritual advisors in the areas of grief, loss, bereavement, traumatic and NICU losses. She has presented at medical conferences and online teaching conferences within the United States as well as in London, Heidelberg and Victoria. 

Dr. Dyer also has expertise in wellness education and health promotion. An avid writer, Dr. Dyer has had articles published in a variety of medical journals, conference proceedings as well as on many online sites.

Her interests in life challenges, web-education, self-help and encouraging the healing process following a loss resulted in creating Journey of Hearts, a website to educate people about the normal grief response. Journey of Hearts has been online since 1997 helping thousands of people worldwide through the resources available as an online healing place.Dr. Dyer has been providing health education over the Internet for more than a decade. She teaches an online nutrition and wellness course and the online graduate course she developed in grief, loss and bereavement.  A life-long student, she is currently a Fellow studying with the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine online program.