The Palliative Medicine Fellowship Journey

  • Published: September 6th, 2012
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Education is a never-ending journey, we allow ourselves to absorb knowledge that is passed on by mentors in hopes that we use it throughout our lives. Recently I met an outstanding group of Physician Fellows who collectively have the same educational purpose, to treat the “whole” patient. The fellows are of new to mid-career physicians who continue their educational journey of practicing and assessing patients not only on pain and symptom management, but helping to address their spiritual, psychological and social needs. These 12 individuals make up the largest palliative medicine physician fellowship in the United States.

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Often times “whole patient care” is not taught in the hospital setting but in the hospice and palliative medicine environment where physicians are able “to experience a variety of settings, whether in a hospice inpatient setting, at a patient’s home, in long-term care or in a consultative capacity at a hospital,” said Gary T. Buckholz, MD, FAAHPM, who is the Director of the Palliative Medicine Fellowship Program at San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine. “This experience prepares the fellow to work in a leadership role in palliative care, education and research.”

Many of the physicians who are selected for the program have moved from across the country from Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Kansas. During their fellowship program, these physicians work with a team of colleagues consisting of a spiritual counselor, social worker, nurse and pharmacist to create the best care plans for their patients who may be suffering from a chronic or life limiting illness. The practice of Palliative Medicine allows these physicians to walk together with their patients and the patient’s families to help relieve their suffering, provide comfort and add that human touch to care.

Along their journey they were mentored by some of the top physicians in the palliative medicine field and the incredible staff at San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine. As they continue to grow in their careers, they hope to share palliative medicine practices with their colleagues back home and to treat their patients as a “whole person.”

Photo credit: (Top L – R) Kristin Forner, MD; Steven Rayle, MD; Chris Pietras, MD; Paul Sychangco, MD; Kyle Edmonds, MD; Collin Zimmerman, MD; (Middle L-R) Dominic Moore, MD; Alex Madonis, MD; Sonja Kassuba, MD; Lase Ajayi, MD; (Bottom L-R) Monica Rosenthal, MD; Enma Alvarado, MD.


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