How to Become a Life Care Planner

When I tell people that I am both a physician and a life care planner, I get a lot of questions.

“What is a life care planner?”

“Aren’t all doctors life care planners?”

“Do you have to be a doctor to do that job? How is it different?”

Let’s break down the ideal background for a career in life care planning and how it all works. Personally, going down this path has been one of the most deeply rewarding decisions I have ever made. What I have learned and the people I have the privilege of helping will never leave me.

What is Life Care Planning?

Life care planning is a type of case management tool for those with significant injuries, conditions, or illnesses. We are called in to evaluate the nature of these chronic or permanent afflictions, injuries or conditions, in order to create what I call a “care plan for life.” This care plan is a highly educated approximation of the care, resources, services, equipment etc. that the ill or injured person will need for the remainder of their lives based on a proven tried and true methodology (or series of steps). 

The majority, but not all, of folks in the life care planning field have a medical background. Generally speaking, we are in extremely high demand. Expanding my services as a physician into this field also expanded my reach; I now travel often and evaluate folks both in the southeast region and across the country. 

It has also expanded my field of collaboration. So often, I work with other specialists including neurology, orthopedics, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, cardiology, and others in determining someone’s overall condition. No man is an island, and as a life care planner, I am reminded of that fact every day.

My Journey as a Life Care Planner

I was not terribly familiar with life care planning until a couple of former patients reached out and requested my help. Once I found out that I was eligible, it felt like a natural extension of my background in physiatry. I also had significant experience with the rehabilitation process and long-term care methods. I want to emphasize this: life care planning truly made me a better doctor.

In many ways my practice is now no longer transactional. I am invested in the long-term wellness of my patients and their teams. I perform regular home visits and speak on their behalf in the courtroom. I am invested in their ability to remain comfortable and cared-for for the remainder of their lives. It is a heavy burden but it is also a blessing.

One young man comes to mind often when I talk about life as a life care planner. He became paraplegic in an accident and his family reached out for assistance soon afterward. He was struggling in rehab. We had to call in cardio, psychological, and gastrointestinal experts to get to the root of his many issues. Together we worked not only to restore him physically but mentally. His team got him motivated to move forward and make the best of a tough situation, and these are the scenarios I see on a regular basis. They keep me humble.

The work of a life care planner is profound and unique. If you are interested in pursuing work in this field, I recommend reviewing a few resources:

http://www.aaplcp.org/Education/Publications.aspx

https://www.physicianlcp.com/LifeCarePLanningPhysiatry/

http://www.paulmdeutsch.com/FAQs-life-care-planning.htm

To learn more about myself and my work, please click here.

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