Our Mission and Vision

We believe that empathic, honest conversations are cornerstones of patient- and family-centered care. Research shows that patients who speak with their clinicians about their goals and values are more likely to receive the care they want, have fewer non-beneficial medical treatments, spend fewer days in hospitals and intensive care units, and report a better quality of life. Our vision is that every seriously ill patient in the UVM Health Network will be surrounded by clinicians who can skillfully discuss what matters most.We want to make sure that finances are not a barrier to attendance for anyone. We are committed to making participation in TalkVermont programs accessible to all healthcare professionals. We offer discount codes for our courses to make sure that anyone can attend.
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Our Approach

All of our courses utilize small-group learning that features cognitive mapping, deliberate practices with simulated patients, and just-in-time feedback.

Communication Skills Coaching

We have collaborated with VitalTalk, the premier serious illness communication skills coaching program, to adapt their evidence-based trainings for our clinicians. We offer 8-hour training workshops that are engaging, interprofessional and focused on eliciting patient values in the context of their illness.

System Re-Engineering

We have partnered with the Harvard University School of Public Health’s Ariadne Labs to implement the Serious Illness Care Program (SICP). The SICP is a trial-proven, multi-component intervention for clinical practices that includes identifying target populations, prompting discussions, adapting scheduling and workflows to optimize conversation time, standardizing findable documentation in the electronic medical record, and systematic quality measurement and reporting.

Meet the TalkVermont Team

Headshot of Steven Burns, MD, program lead for TalkVermont.

Steven Berns, MD, FAAPM

Steve is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Family at the University of Vermont. Over the past 10 years, Steve has worked as a palliative care physician seeing patients in the inpatient and outpatient setting. 

He is senior faculty for VitalTalk and was part of the Moore Initiative, a collaboration between VitalTalk and Ariadne Labs.

When he is not teaching serious illness communication skills, Steve likes to go for runs, hike around Vermont, bake pies and spend time with his 2 spaniels.

Headshot fo Kacey Boyle, RN, program lead for TalkVermont.

Kacey Bole, MSPC, RN, CHPN
Associate Director, Educational Programs

Kacey is a certified hospice and palliative care nurse who has more than a decade of experience caring for seriously ill patients and families at The University of Vermont Medical Center. In 2017, she graduated with the inaugural class of the first ever Master of Science in Palliative Care program through the University of Colorado. Kacey is passionate about inter-professional education and empowering all members of the healthcare team through communication skills training. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, biking and boating with friends and family.