Joining my colleagues from Transcend Hospice-Marketing Group at the NHPCO 31st Management and Leadership Conference in Washington DC was amazing! I love it when I walk away from a conference excited and thinking, “I’m in! Let’s DO this!” The presentations I attended deepened my understanding of the many hospice and palliative care stories, inspired me to be passionate in my actions and positioned me to be a more effective communicator.

Here are my three big MLC takeaways:

1.     Stay passionate! Work towards the outcome.

“We all are building a body of work both in our occupation and our everyday.” This was what launched me into my excitement during the Opening Plenary presentation by Todd Henry, Passion for Work (life).

Building your body of work starts with finding your productive passion − something for which you’re willing to go the extra mile. Your passion piques your curiosity, fuels your drive and motivates you to work towards an outcome.

What you do every day is what matters. It determines your body of work.

It’s more than the tasks. It’s the bigger picture. What is your passion? What work are you willing to pour yourself into more than other things? What is the outcome you’re committed to that makes you say “I’m in. Let’s DO this!”

In the end, we’ll be remembered for the body of work we create, right? Whether it’s at the end of our career or the end of our life. Watch Todd’s presentation and get inspired!

Pumped up after Todd’s presentation, I moved on and found my seat at the next morning session, Deadra’s Story: A Moment in the Life of a Family.

On the panel, I saw the moderator; Deadra Gladden’s parents, Darryl and Andrea; and her physicians discussing how palliative care gave Deadra, a 28-year-old from New Jersey, a second chance.

Until Deadra encountered palliative care, she was living with Lupus, her kidneys were failing and she had recently suffered a stroke. As her health continued to decline, Deadra was feeling hopeless, living with excruciating pain and grieving the loss of her older sister who had died the previous year from the same disease.

Emotional SCREECH! I was just coming off of this skyrocketing joy and then bam! Sadness.

Through the help of her care team, Deadra received proper symptom management and emotional support. As a result, her spirits were lifted and she changed her focus from living with pain and anxiety to living life to the fullest.

“Palliative care gave us time to prepare our heart. And her heart,” said Andrea. The spiritual side of palliative care was palpable in the room.

Deadra was passionate about sharing her palliative care story. That was her body of work.

Even after her death in January 2016, her passion continues through her parents. Take a look at Deadra’s story on Moments of Life – it captures her passion beautifully!

 2.   Break down the barriers and connect.

Rev. Carla Cheatham presented Marketing and Outreach Using….Chaplains?! She shared her passion that care counselors can be some of the most effective marketers in both facilities and the community. They can improve consumers’ comfort with hospice and expand the reach of the agency’s services.

Research shows that patients want to talk to clinicians about spiritual issues and yet the conversation doesn’t happen. The idea behind chaplaincy is that they know people and assess them spiritually and meet them where they are. No assumptions. With clinical training, chaplains have the ability to be with others and not impose their beliefs.

When chaplains invest in meeting and learning the needs of all cultures and communities, not only are they better prepared to meet a patient or family member in their spiritual space, also, the message about hospice and palliative care is amplified.

Carla found her productive passion in breaking down spiritual barriers in her community. Her desired outcome was to strengthen her ability to provide a broader range of spiritual support. This short video demonstrates her approach.

3.    Above all, wear comfortable shoes!

The sessions at the conference helped me understand the passion and outcomes others are working towards and have achieved. As a hospice and palliative care marketer, this deeper acuity helps me promote our clients’ services to their audiences. We share the same outcome fueled by a similar fire – a passion to make hospice and palliative care accessible to those living with a serious illness.

So, it’s up to each of us to find our passion and create our body of work. Find that something that you want to pour yourself into. Remember that what you do every day is what matters in the big picture. The decisions and actions you make every day tie into your passion and lead you to the outcome – the change you want to make. And wear a good pair of shoes – it may be a long journey!