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Dr Martin Loucka

I am a psychologist and palliative care researcher, currently working in Prague, the Czech Republic. In 2014, after my PhD study at Lancaster University in the UK, I established the Center for Palliative Care, the first research and teaching organisation in the field of palliative care in our country. Currently, I still lead the Center and also work as Assistant Professor at the 3rd Faculty of Medicine at Charles University in Prague, where I teach palliative care and communication. I am also Research Secretary of the Czech Society of Palliative Medicine, husband of Blanka, father of three amazing girls and a retired musician and climber, waiting for his second chance.

I have been interested in palliative care since my university studies when I wrote both my bachelor and master’s theses on children’s understanding of death. Shortly after my graduation, I was lucky to get a PhD position at the International Observatory on End of Life Care at Lancaster University. My PhD work was focused on methodological aspects of comparing international development of palliative care. It was part of a large international project EUROIMPACT and I had the opportunity to work with a number of inspiring people, especially Professor Sheila Payne and Dr Sarah Brearley who were my supervisors and mentors. Later, I had the chance to learn about the amazing work done by many colleagues in the USA, where I was working as a Fulbright Scholar at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and through the  life-changing educational experience of Palliative Care Education and Practice at Harvard Medical School.

There are many things in palliative care that I like and find exciting. I am very interested in communication – both in research and education. With my colleagues in the Center for Palliative Care, we established an innovative communication training programme for physicians, which has gained positive feedback and a high reputation from clinicians. In the past three years, a lot of my work was also around development of hospital palliative care, which was almost non-existent in the Czech Republic before. Together with the Avast Foundation, we started a revolutionary programme to support palliative care initiatives in hospitals and just a few weeks ago our Ministry of Health started a governmental scheme, which has been inspired by our pilot work. Through this experience, I had the chance to explore the complexity of factors that are involved in a change of healthcare systems. I learned the value of diplomacy, negotiation and change management, which are crucial for further development of palliative care – at least in countries that still struggle with access to palliative care services.

If elected, I would like to focus on the development of guidelines for education and service development.