Get to Know Palliative Care Interest Group

Like other student groups on the NEOMED campus, the Palliative Care Interest Group works hard to improve the world we live in. This time of year, they work closely with Santa’s Hideaway Hollow, a non-profit organization that works with seriously and terminally ill children to provide comfort in the final stages of their illnesses.

“The most rewarding thing about being in this group to me is the opportunity I got to work at Santa’s Holiday Hollow,” says Ayah El-khatib, a medicine student at NEOMED and one of the 20 members of the group. “It is a camp that brings ill children to come see Santa and get presents from him. To see their smiling faces was wonderful.’’

The students were busy in November, during national Palliative Care Month. With assistance from the Office of Palliative Care and organization advisers, the NEOMED student group volunteers in Northeast Ohio communities year-round. Members provide parents with childcare while they are attending memorial services at Akron Children’s Hospital. Students help with spring clean-up or general volunteer work. On occasion, they have been known to dress up as popular children’s characters, like Elsa from the movie Frozen.

The interest group brings in faculty speakers to talk about their career paths and about professions in palliative care. Alumni also take an active interest: Patrick Brine M.D., (‘10) is the group’s co-adviser. Dr. Brine, an assistant professor of internal medicine at NEOMED and  the associate program director for the internal medicine residency at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, provides helpful insight to the students about working with patients in the field.

“The biggest lesson that I have learned is to accept that palliative care isn’t just for the terminally ill but also for people who need help adjusting to chronic illnesses in their life,” says El-khatib, “There are too many stereotypes about palliative care, even among healthcare professionals, that just need to be debunked.”

Recently, to increase their campus presence and raise funds, the Palliative Care Student Interest Group sold compassion pins for white coats. The profits will go to a charitable organization selected by the group, possibly to purchase toys for underprivileged children.

The group welcomes volunteers! To get involved or to purchase a pin and help the Palliative Care Interest Group, contact Margaret Sanders at 330.325.6360 or

--Gabrielle Biltz is a senior at Bio-Med Science Academy and an intern in the NEOMED Office of Public Relations and Marketing.

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