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Physician Fellowship Program


The Institute for Palliative Medicine (IPM) offers one of the largest, ACGME accredited palliative medicine fellowship training programs in the United States. This training program is designed for physicians who wish to become sub-specialists and pursue a long-term career as a clinician or academician in palliative medicine. The program’s educational objectives are to help each trainee:

  • Become an expert in palliative medicine
  • Demonstrate communication and collaboration skills
  • Exemplify professionalism
  • Demonstrate clinical scholarship and improvement
  • Advocate for patients and families
  • “Dr. Makowski, you have changed the way we practice medicine here.”
  • The Physician Fellowship Training Program at The Institute for Palliative Medicine is designed to teach both new and mid-career physicians the specialty of palliative medicine. It is also the nation’s largest physician specialty training program in palliative medicine.

Some of the most widely-recognized physicians and researchers in palliative medicine come to teach and to learn from places as far away as Hawaii and Maine, and as near as local medical schools which partner with the Institute. Fellows leave ready to add the special insights of palliative medicine and its whole-patient/family approach to their practice in their own communities.

A former fellow, Dr. Suzana Makowski, is now teaching at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in the Division of Palliative Medicine. The quote above is the feedback she received from a third-year resident in her class, describing how her instruction changed the way the medical students practice palliative care medicine.

“I had only the vaguest of hunches that I was applying to an extraordinary institution, an epicenter of the coming and desperately needed renewal of medicine, when I submitted my application for a fellowship position. Now I know. I am therefore more eager than ever to have chance to work and learn at San Diego Hospice, to immerse myself in the waters of the quiet revolution that I surmise is taking place there in hopes of becoming part of it and helping to extend it to other quarters.” – Gregg Manoff, MD (Fellowship Applicant)

“Fellows who complete the program gain experience in 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. This experience prepares the fellow to work in a leadership role in palliative care, education or research.”

Gary T. Buckholz, M.D.
Director, Fellowship Program

Clinical Fellowship

Fellows become board-eligible in hospice and palliative medicine. Each year, up to 10 fellows are selected for the program which will lead to board-eligibility in hospice and palliative medicine. Current residents as well as mid-career physicians are eligible for the program and encouraged to apply. Specialties that are eligible for board certification in hospice and palliative medicine include Anesthesiology, Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Psychiatry and Neurology, Radiology, and Surgery. The diversity of trainees and faculty in the program creates a rich educational environment.

Additional Fellowship Training

Fellows who are interested may be considered for a second year focused on the development of particular skills. Fellows from other one-year programs interested in a second year of training are also encouraged to apply. While the program is developed to meet the individual needs of the fellow, plans generally fall into one of two broad tracks: research or education. Second year fellowship plans are developed in collaboration with the program director and others, typically by the mid-point of the first year of training.

Where our fellowship graduates are working:

Southern California

Cedars-Sinai Hospital and Hospice, Los AngelesLoma Linda University Hospital, CASan Diego Home Care DoctorsSan Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative MedicineTrinityCare Hospice, Torrance
University of California, San Diego

  • Across North America
  • Allegiance Hospice Care, ME
  • Baylor Geriatrics and Palliative Care, TX
  • Big Bend Hospice, FL
  • British Columbia Hospice, Canada
  • Capital Hospice, VA
  • Hospice of Lancaster, PA
  • Hospice of Metro Denver, CO
  • Hospice of St. Martin and St. Lucie, FL
  • Merrimack Valley Hospice, MA
  • Nathan Adelson Hospice, NV
  • Abbott Northwestern Hospital, MN
  • Palliative Medicine Service, NE
  • Pikes Peak Hospice, CO
  • St. Claire’s Hospital & The Hospice House, WA
  • St. John’s Hospital, IL
  • St. Vincent’s Hospital, NY
  • University of Massachusetts
  • Washington Home and Hospice, Washington DC
  • Zuni Nation Hospital, AZ

Fellowship Rotations

Rotations in the following settings provide exposure to a variety of patients and family members, and facilitate preparation for all types of careers within palliative medicine.

Hospice Inpatient Care Center: The 24-bed Inpatient Care Center (ICC) located on San Diego Hospice’s main campus is the primary inpatient environment for some of the most seriously-ill patients. Most patients and families have multiple acute physical, psychological, social, practical, and spiritual issues. Fellows become an integral member of the interdisciplinary team, participating in daily rounds and in developing and managing each patient’s plan of care.

Home Hospice/Long Term Care: The Hospice Care at Home and the Long-Term Care teams care for the majority of the patients and families receiving hospice care. Patients in these settings present a wide range of acute and chronic issues as well as management challenges for family caregivers and healthcare providers. Each fellow is assigned to different care teams to provide palliative care to patients and families. They learn skills specific to the home care environment, such as adapting to limitations in the home as a setting for care, as well as how to provide palliative care in a long-term care facility, and facilitate continuity of care.

Consultation Services: Fellows provide consultative services with palliative care teams at Scripps and UCSD hospitals, and to physicians throughout San Diego County. They consult on symptom control, and help to determine the patient and family goals of care by facilitating family meetings in an acute care hospital and outpatient clinic. The fellow teaches palliative care skills to residents, nurses and other hospital staff, and facilitates the progression of care to hospice, end-of life, and bereavement care when appropriate.

In addition, IPM’s International Program offers a limited number of fellows the opportunity to serve as teaching faculty in places such as Jordan, Ukraine, and Mongolia during elective time.

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