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Dr Sandra Martins Pereira

The first time I heard about palliative care, I was just finishing my nursing degree and wanted to make a difference. This was in the 90s, a couple of years after the creation of the first Portuguese palliative care unit. Soon afterwards, when I first cared for a dying patient, and his daughters, on an acute vascular surgery ward, I felt the need to have the clinical skills to provide excellent palliative care.

Ever since, my interest, engagement and commitment to palliative care have been in crescendo. And, I have been so lucky! So many patients and their loved ones, colleagues, pioneers, students, people I love and who have died already, have inspired me in so many ways to continue to be involved in palliative care.

Nowadays, I work as a researcher at the Institute of Bioethics, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, in the beautiful city of Porto. My main areas of interest are education about palliative care for professionals and citizens, ethical issues in palliative care, decision-making processes, end-of-life decisions, inter-professional relations, integrated palliative care and incorporating ethics into the knowledge-to-action cycle.

After living and working for 10 years in the Azores, I still collaborate with the regional government and organisations to make palliative care more accessible for citizens who live in this outermost region of Europe. It is quite a challenge, but work is in progress and I am so proud to see former students engaging actively in palliative care.

Internationally, I had the privilege of working in the FP7 Marie Curie Euro-IMPACT project, where I worked on the development of a book on palliative care for older people from a public health perspective. Building this book and integrating the contribution of so many worldwide palliative care experts was an amazing journey!

Palliative care is not only a job, but also a passion. Still, when I am not engaged in palliative care activities, I share as much time as possible with my husband, family and friends. I love sharing a cup of tea and conversation, hiking and playing the piano.

I am a proactive supporter of the work of the EAPC. First, I am one of the screening editors of Palliative Medicine, the official journal of the EAPC. Second, I enjoy contributing to its blog, trying to engage and reach other people. Third, I co-chair a task force on the ‘Preparation for Practice in Palliative Care Nursing across the EU’. Finally, I attend the annual EAPC congresses where I do my best to participate actively.

My vision is to combine our diverse voices to reach the most vulnerable ones. I trust that my expertise and enthusiasm in practice, education, research and policy can positively enhance the work of the EAPC.