Section of Palliative Care

Palliative Care Education Curriculum

Personalized resources for trainees and providers

The goal of the PCEC program is to work with Vanderbilt University Medical Center residency and fellowship programs to identify and to assess the Palliative Care education needs of the trainees in their program and create a personalized education plan for each program.

Palliative Care (PC) is the care of patients with a serious illness at any point in their medical course. Palliative Care focuses on medical decision-making, symptom management, and utilizing resources including hospice services. All clinicians who take care of patients need some basic PC skills to take the best care of their patients. 

Primary Palliative Care is provided by the clinician in the routine course of practice in their primary field (example - a surgery resident discussing code status, managing symptoms related to the illness they treat, or discussing advance directives). Specialist PC is provided by a clinician who has had specialty training in PC (a PC consultant discussing complex goals of care discussion, managing refractory symptoms, or facilitating a complex hospice referral). 

Monthly Resources Archive

Fast Facts and Concepts #378 - "How to Help a Patient Choose a Surrogate Decision Maker" by Briana Ketterer, MD and Robert Arnold, MD, Palliative Care Network of Wisconsin

Evaluating Medical Decision-Making Capacity in Practice" by Craig Barstow, MD, Brian Shahan, M, and Melissa Roberts, MD, American Family Physician

Fast Facts and Concepts #16 - "Moderating an End-of-Life Family Conference" by Bruce Ambuel PhD and David E Weissman MD, Palliative Care Network of Wisconsin”

End of Life Care: Managing Common Symptoms" by Ross Albert, MD, PhD American Family Physician

Fast Facts and Concepts #140 – "Medicare Hospice Benefit: Levels of Hospice Care" by Tara C Friedman MD Palliative Care Network of Wisconsin”

Fast Facts and Concepts #244, "Screening for Opioid Misuse and Abuse," by Rene Claxton, MD and Robert Arnold, MD

"The Surprise Question as a Prognostic Tool #260” by Kate S. Jennings, MD, Sean Marks, MD, and Hillary D. Lum, MD, PhD

"I Wish Things Were Different: Expressing Wishes in Response to Loss, Futility, and Unrealistic Hopes” by Timothy E. Quill, MD, Robert M. Arnold, MD & Frederic Platt, MD, Annals of Internal Medicine

Fast Facts and Concepts #120 - "Physicians and Prayer Requests” by Kate Kwiatkowski, Robert Arnold MD, David Barnard PhD, Palliative Care Network of Wisconsin

Fast Facts and Concepts #32 - "Grief and Bereavement" by James Hallenbeck MD, Palliative Care Network of Wisconsin

Palliative Care for the Seriously Ill by Amy S. Kelley, M.D., M.S.H.S., and R. Sean Morrison, M.D., The New England Journal of Medicine

PAMI – Pain Management and Dosing Guide by College of Medicine – University of Florida Jacksonville

Fast Facts and Concepts #29 – "Responding to Patient Emotion" by Bruce Ambuel PhD, Palliative Care Network of Wisconsin

"Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst" by Anthony Back, MD, Annals of Internal Medicine (AIM)

"Family Meetings on Behalf of Patients with Serious Illness" by Eric Widera, M.D., Wendy G. Anderson, M.D., Lekshmi Santhosh, M.D., M.A.Ed., Kanako Y. McKee, M.D., Alexander K. Smith, M.D., M.P.H., and James Frank, M.D., The New England Journal of Medicine

DocCom Module 33: "Delivering Bad News" by Timothy Quill, MD, Carly Dennis, MD, Anthony Caprio, MD, and Catherine Gracey, MD - Drexel University College of Medicine (DUCOM)

Fast Facts #11 - "Delivering Bad News Part 2" by Bruce Ambuel, PhD and David E. Weissman, MD

Fast Facts #6 - "Delivering Bad News Part 1" by Bruce Ambuel, PhD and David E. Weissman, MD, Palliative Care Network of Wisconsin

Educational Resources

Participating Programs

Critical Care PCEC liaison:  

Christina Hayhurst, MD 

​​​​​​​Assistant Professor, Anesthesiology Critical Care Medicine 
Fellowship Director, Anesthesiology Critical Care Medicine 
Director, Clinical Operations, Anesthesiology Critical Care Medicine 

  • Opioid Bootcamp (Petry, May 2021)
  • Nausea and Vomiting (Wooldridge, May 2021)                   
  • Code Status and Surrogates (Peachey, July 2021)
  • Pain Management 101 (Martin, July 2021)
  • Family Meetings 101 (Nelson)
  • Non Opioid Pain Management (Leonard)
  • Capacity and Decision Making (Misra, October 2021)
  • Prognosis and Communication (El-Sourady, May 2022)
  • Care of the Dying Patient (Nelson, April 2022)

IM-PCEC liaison:  

John McPherson, MD
Vice Chair for Education, Department of Medicine 
Director, Internal Medicine Residency Program 

  • Med-Peds Prognosis Lecture (El-Sourady, March 2021)
  • Med-Peds Prognosis and Communication (El-Sourady, March 2021)
  • Med-Peds ACP and Communication (El-Sourady, April 2021)

Med-Peds liaison

Sandra Moutsios, MD 
Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics 
Director, Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Residency Program 


William Joseph Sullivan, MD 

Professor and Vice Chair 
Residency Program Director, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 

Urology-PCEC resources

PCEC Urology Prognosis and Communication (El-Sourady May 2021) 

Urology-PCEC liaison

Kristen Scarpato, MD, MPH 
Assistant Professor, Department of Urology 
Director of Residency Program, Department of Urology

Emergency Medicine-PCEC liasion: 

Julie Brown, MD 

VUMC Emergency Medicine

Geriatric-PCEC Liaison:

Mariu Duggan, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine
Director, Geriatric Medicine Fellowship Program
Clinical Director of Geriatric Operations, Vanderbilt University Hospital

Radiation Oncology liaison

Natalie Lockney, MD 
Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology 
Residency Program Director, Department of Radiation Oncology 

Program Leadership

Maie El-Sourady, MD

Director, Vanderbilt PCEC Program
Associate Professor of Medicine