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December 18, 2023

A UNE continuing ed program will cover end-of-life care

aerial campus photo File photo / Courtesy UNE The University of New England has its main campus in Biddeford, shown here.

The University of New England is expanding its offerings to include continuing education programs across various fields, including end-of-life care. 

The school, which has campuses in Biddeford and Portland, now offers an online course that prepares students to work as doulas, caring for individuals and their families during terminal illness or near the end of life. 

“Our goal is to help the doula gain an understanding of the various disciplines involved in end-of-life care,” said Rebecca Diggins, an assistant clinical professor who designed the course with a team of clinical experts. “With what they learn through this curriculum, doulas have an opportunity to be impactful across multiple dimensions of the end-of-life journey.”

The eight-week curriculum is designed to be accessible to people with a wide range of experience, educational backgrounds and interests. The coursework is based on a collaborative approach between the end-of-life doulas and other care team members, including medical, spiritual and psychosocial professionals. 

The course includes eight modules, covering topics such as grief, communication skills, planning for end-of-life, caregiving boundaries and professional self-care, spirituality, and ideas for practical support.

“End-of-life care is active care,” said Paul Segal, an internal medicine doctor and assistant professor of primary care at UNE.

“It requires empathy and even humor. I work with medical students to teach them how to get comfortable around this,” he said. “There is such a thing as a ‘good death,’ and the doula program is so important because the doula can be an important link between the patient, family and care providers to help achieve a good death.”

UNE includes the state’s only medical college and only dental college, and offers a variety of other health care degree programs. The university has more than 6,500 students, including 2,300 on-campus undergraduates, 1,600 on-campus graduate students and 2,600 online students. 

UNE was ranked No. 6 among Maine’s largest colleges and universities in the 2023 Mainebiz Book of Lists, based on full-time undergraduate enrollment as of fall 2022. 

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