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New “Life is Beautiful” Course Connects Students with Hospice Patients

August 29, 2013 — Drexel Pre-Physician Assistant student Alexandra Kirczow and Nursing student Judith Parent had the unique opportunity to connect with hospice patients on a personal level while taking a summer course called “Life is Beautiful.” Offered by the College of Arts and Sciences, the class is a community-based learning course that pairs students with a patient in an area hospice or home to interview and write a life journal on behalf of the patient.

Kirczow was paired with a 90 year-old woman who recently had a bad fall and broke her arm, hip and ribs. Kirczow’s patient also had heart and lung disease, diabetes and cataracts. To interview her, Kirczow visited her patient’s niece’s house, where her patient lived after her accident.

“My patient never married nor had children. She liked to live alone and be alone a lot. She was probably the most independent woman I have ever had the pleasure of meeting,” Kirczow said. “It seemed like she didn't have many opportunities in life, but I found her independence awe- inspiring.” Kirczow’s patient passed away on August 2, in the middle of the course. “It was a little unexpected, mostly because she always talked about going back to her own home to live her former independent life again,” she said. “She was such a character and didn't like to talk much about herself, but the experiences I had with her I will never forget.”

Kirczow chose to take the course because she had worked with hospice patients before and it had been a rewarding experience. “Any interactions with patients help me grow to be more caring, understanding, and nurturing. I put the needs of the patient first and get to know them, allowing myself to be changed forever by them,” she said.

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