Home Cedar Valley Hospice Medical Director earns unique distinction

Cedar Valley Hospice Medical Director earns unique distinction

Dr. John Zehr likes a good challenge. Since joining Cedar Valley Hospice as its new medical director in May 2018, the Waverly resident has shown strength, passion and commitment to the organization’s mission “to enrich lives with knowledge, respect and compassionate care.”

Yet, he aspired for more. Prior to joining Cedar Valley Hospice, he developed an interest in hospice and palliative care and researched what it would take to become board certified in that specialty. Although certifications of these types were not required by Cedar Valley Hospice, he was personally driven to be a certified hospice medical director. He then set his sights on passing the exam.

For two years he combed the textbook, completed module after module, listened to lectures and took the online practice test. He did this all while still working at Waverly Health Center’s ER and caring for our patients at Cedar Valley Hospice with a growing census. A feat for anyone...but not for a determined Zehr.

After about 30 hours of coursework, he was ready to take the 165-question test.

“I felt fairly good about my chances of passing the exam, but there were some tricky questions too. I knew I wouldn’t pass with 100%,” said Zehr.

He still scored high marks and joined the elite group of 1,100 physicians in the United States that are certified as hospice medical directors.

He gives a lot of credit to his co-workers at Cedar Valley Hospice, from whom he gleaned a lot of knowledge. Their assistance combined with what he learned by attending interdisciplinary and management meetings, gave him the confidence to cross the finish line.

“It’s hard for me to completely express how grateful I am to be working at Cedar Valley Hospice,” he added.

“The services we provide are very important, and we are a great team. I enjoy the personalities of the staff and am continually impressed with how important every role is within the organization. The way we support each other is inspiring – that is what makes this work feel so rewarding.”

Zehr said his role sometimes seems small compared to the “emotion-packed visits” completed daily by the other disciplines on his team. He sought this certification to enable himself to pay it forward to all those in the organization’s circle of care.

“Cedar Valley Hospice already had a reputation for high quality hospice care before I came on board,” he added. “This certification indicates my desire to ‘keep up the good work’ of prior medical directors and align deeper with our mission. Maintaining certification involves continuing education in the field, and I hope to use that to pass on knowledge for the benefit of our patients, families and team.”

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