Being Mortal: Conversations About the End of Life

Up to 1.00 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsRelease Date: September 2, 2015 Review Date: September 2, 2022 Expiration Date: September 2, 2023 Format: Internet-based Video Fee: Free

Target Audience

This program is designed for physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses and social workers and others involved in the care of patients nearing the end of their life.

Statement of Purpose

As was poignantly stated in the PBS Frontline special, “Doctors are often remarkably untrained, ill-suited and uncomfortable talking about chronic illness and death with their patients.” For most physicians and their teams, there is little training in managing end-of-life and having these difficult conversations with patients and families. Medical school and residency training has imparted the belief that death is failure. Too often, death comes as a surprise to patients’ loved ones because this conversation never took place. There is no natural time to have these conversations until a crisis comes, and too often it’s too late. Also, sometimes what physicians do say to patients in not what patients hear, and their death comes as a surprise to family members. Patients have definite goals like to die at home or avoid suffering. However, too often physicians and their care teams do not ask their patients about their goals and fears, so treatment is not aligned with their patients’ priorities. This CME/CE activity will discuss how healthcare professionals can better help terminally ill patients prepare for death, and provide training in effective ways to engage patients and families in these difficult conversations that can empower patients to live their lives fully. It will define the importance of patients’ goals of care, and discuss ethical concerns of end-of-life decision-making.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this activity, you should be able to:
  1. Explain the benefits of having conversations about your patients’ goals of care and what’s important to them
  2. Use strategies and tools to aid in conversations with patients about their goals of care
  3. Initiate conversations with your patients to learn their goals of care and what’s important to them
  4. Engage in difficult conversations about prognosis, treatment and location of care to understand a patient’s priorities and goals of care
  5. Recommend care plans for patients based on their goals of care



Atul Gwande, MD, MPH Dr. Gawande is a surgeon, writer, and public health researcher. He practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Samuel O. Thier Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. He is also Executive Director of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation, and Chairman of Lifebox, a nonprofit organization making surgery safer globally. Dr. Gawande has been a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine since 1998 and has written four New York Times bestsellers: ComplicationsBetterThe Checklist Manifesto, and most recently, Being MortalMedicine and What Matters in the End. He is the winner of two National Magazine Awards, AcademyHealth’s Impact Award for highest research impact on healthcare, a MacArthur Fellowship, and the Lewis Thomas Award for writing about science.

Content Planning:

Michael O. Fleming, MD
Michael Fleming, MD, FAAFP Dr. Fleming is chief medical officer of Antidote Education Company. He is a Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine at LSU Health Science Center in Shreveport, and Clinical Assistant Professor of Family and Community Medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine. Dr. Fleming has more than 29 years of medical field experience and is past President of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Louisiana Academy of Family Physicians; and was founding President of the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum.


AMA: This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through the joint providership of Antidote Education Company and Amedisys. Antidote is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians. Antidote Education Company designates this enduring activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. AOA: CME activities approved for AAFP credit are recognized by the AOA as equivalent to AOA Category 2 credit. AAFP: This Enduring Material activity, Being Mortal: Conversations about the End of Life, has been reviewed and is acceptable for up to 1.00 Prescribed credit(s) by the American Academy of Family Physicians.  AAFP certification begins 02/02/2020.  Term of approval is for one year from this date.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. AAPA: AAPA accepts certificates of participation for educational activities certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ from organizations accredited by ACCME. Physician assistants may receive a maximum of 1.0 hour of Category I credit for completing this program. CCM: This program has been pre-approved by The Commission for Case Manager Certification to provide continuing education credit to CCM® board certified case managers. The course is approved for 1.0 CE contact hour(s).

Method of Participation

  • Read the learning objectives and faculty disclosures.
  • Click on the link below to participate in the online activity. Answer any polling questions presented.
  • Complete the post-test and evaluation presented at the end of the activity.
A statement of credit will be issued automatically upon receipt of a completed activity evaluation form and a completed post-test with a score of 70% or better. You will have 3 opportunities to successfully complete the post-test.

Educational Grant

This CME activity being offered as a courtesy by Antidote Education Company.


Antidote is committed to creating, developing, and operating high-quality, relevant, and practical continuing medical education activities that are in compliance with the ACCME's policies on commercial support and disclosure. Specifically, we are dedicated to ensuring that our events are planned and implemented free of the control of commercial interests and to identifying and resolving conflicts of interest of all persons in a position to control the content of an educational activity before the educational activity is delivered to our attendees. In addition, it is our standard practice to disclose all relevant financial relationships of our speakers in writing to our attendees before the beginning of an educational activity. The content of this material does not relate to any product of a commercial interest; therefore, there are no relevant financial relationships to disclose. Please note the ACCME does not consider Amedisys a commercial interest, though relationships with Amedisys are disclosed for transparency.


The material presented at this course is being made available by Antidote Education Company for educational purposes only. This material is not intended to represent the only, nor necessarily best methods or procedures appropriate for the medical situations discussed, but rather is intended to present an approach, view, statement or opinion of the faculty which may be helpful to others who face similar situations. Opinions expressed in this activity are those of the faculty and not of Antidote or the joint sponsor. Every effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the data presented at this course. Physicians may care to check specific details such as drug doses and contraindications in standard sources prior to clinical application.

Software Requirements

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This activity is presented in video format and closed captions are available in English. To turn the closed captions on, hover over the video to display the play/pause button and the time code. Click the "CC" logo and turn the closed captions on. If you need additional assistance, please contact Antidote by clicking here.

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