About the Woltman Family Communication Program (video)

With the passing of his wife, Richard Woltman realized that some care providers weren’t completely prepared to have conversations about end-of-life issues and he and his family didn’t know what to ask. In memory of Kaye Woltman, the Woltman family established a three-part initiative to help provide training to health care providers to implement research-based practices that improve patient and family satisfaction in end-of-life care.

Program Initiatives:

  1. The Kaye Woltman Endowed Visiting Lectureship in Health Communication through the IU School of Nursing is an annual lectureship that will allow trainees, clinicians, community providers, faculty, and students direct access to nationally recognized experts focusing specifically on the critical issues of communication across the lifespan.

    Speakers will address topics such as ethical challenges healthcare providers face about palliative and end-of-life care or best practices when initiating difficult conversations with patients and their families.

  2. The Woltman Inter-professional Communication Scholars Program (WISP) is a three year communication initiative that will provide training for healthcare providers and will advance and translate the existing science of communication research into practice, and is centered on the care of patients who are experiencing a life-limiting illness in any clinical setting, hospitals, hospice, ambulatory clinics, and long-term care facilities.

    The program also intends to improve communication between members of the healthcare team and between the patient and their loved ones. According to Dr. Wocial the WISP project director, “the thing that sets WISP apart is the focus on a team approach to caring for patients.

    Rather than simply providing participants with information WISP combines techniques from “medical improv” an innovative program developed by Professor Katie Watson at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University with techniques from “Vital Talk” a structured communication program focused on palliative care, to give participants an opportunity to more fully develop their communication skills through practice with expert coaches and mentors.

    With this training, a healthcare team will be able to collaborate to determine who can best lead these types of critical conversations.”

  3. The Richard and Kaye Woltman Endowed Fellowship in Health Communication will allow an IUSON graduate student with an interest in palliative and end-of-life care to play an active role in the development of the WISP communication project and support the work of the RESPECT Center.

    The fellowship will exist in perpetuity, continuing to enable graduate students to focus their studies on communication during end-of-life/palliative care after the completion of the WISP project.

”This program will help make sure patients and their families are guided by healthcare teams through the difficult palliative and end-of-life care conversations” said Mr. Woltman.  Lucia D. Wocial, PhD, RN, adjunct assistant professor at IUSON, nurse ethicist for IU Health, and program leader for the Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics Program in Nursing Ethics, Marion Broome, former Dean of IU School of Nursing, and Susan E. Hickman, PhD will provide leadership and direction for the project.