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Palliative Medicine Fellowship Training
SDHPC > Home > Education > Medical Education > Palliative Medicine Fellowships
The Center for Palliative Studies (CPS) at San Diego Hospice & Palliative Care (SDHPC) offers one of the largest and most rigorous, accredited palliative medicine fellowship training programs in the United States. These training programs are designed for physicians who wish to pursue a long-term career as a clinician or an academician in palliative medicine. They have five overall educational objectives - to help trainees:
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1. Become an expert in palliative medicine
2. Demonstrate communication and collaboration skills
3. Exemplify professionalism
4. Demonstrate clinical scholarship and improvement
5. Advocate for patients and families

Clinical Fellowship (1 Year)

Each year, between 5 and 10 fellows will be selected for a 1-year Clinical Fellowship Training Program that will lead to board eligibility in hospice and palliative medicine. During a one-year fellowship, rotations occur in our hospice inpatient unit, home hospice, consultation services in both academic and community hospitals, and ambulatory clinic. These different locations of patient / family care allow for excellent preparation for all types of careers within palliative medicine. Our fellows have successfully gone on to be hospice medical directors, palliative consultants in outpatient and inpatient settings, as well as primary care clinicians with part-time exposure to palliative medicine.

While some programs only accept graduates of internal medicine programs, we believe it is important not to limit applicants from specific specialties. Ten specialties have sponsored palliative medicine as a subspecialty. It is important for nearly all specialties to develop experts in palliative medicine. Current residents as well as mid-career physicians are encouraged to apply. This philosophy of diversity is mirrored in the faculty, which creates a rich educational environment.


As consultant trainees fellows are in transition from primary specialist to sub-specialist. This transition can feel isolating as it is not always easy to find your peer group. A large program allows for an instant peer group to share the experience. Our fellows often develop long-lasting friendships within their class.

For details about the 1-year Clinical Fellowship at CPS:

Download the Complete Overview of the Clinical Fellowship, including Sample Schedules 605K PDF

Download a Sample Fellow / Faculty Schedule for the Year 53K PDF

Download a Sample Orientation & July-August Education Schedule 160K PDF

Additional Fellowship Training Fellows 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 will be developed to meet the individual needs of the fellow, such plans generally fall into one of 2 broad tracks: research or education. The fellow will develop plans for the second year in collaboration with the program director and others by the mid-point of the first year. For details about Additional Fellowship Training, Download the Complete Overview of the Clinical Fellowship, including Sample Schedules 605K PDF

Faculty and Staff Internationally known clinicians, researchers, and leaders in palliative medicine are on staff. Faculty are dedicated to mentor fellows through their subspecialty training. Background training among the physician faculty includes internal medicine, family medicine, geriatrics, psychiatry, hematology-oncology, and HIV/AIDS medicine. The Center for Palliative Studies is also dedicated to supporting research activity.

Read what our recent fellows say about our faculty . . . 73K PDF

Dr. Charles F. von Gunten is Provost and Director of CPS. He oversees all educational activities at SDHPC. Read Charles' biosketch . . .

Dr. Gary T. Buckholz is Director of the Fellowship Training Program and provides direct oversight for the fellowship program.

A number of the CPS faculty and staff participate in the fellowship training program. Read more about CPS faculty and staff, including their biosketches and links to their publications . . .

Licensure Successful candidates must have an unrestricted license to practice medicine in the State of California when their training begins on July 1st.

A newly appointed trainee, if qualified, may obtain complete or full licensure in the state of California via USMLE or FLEX examination endorsement, or reciprocity of recognized licensure in another state or Canada.

No trainee will be permitted to begin clinical training until properly licensed in California. The process can take as long as 6 to 9 months. Licensure is the trainee's responsibility.

Staff Privileges Each appointed trainee must obtain medical staff privileges at San Diego Hospice & Palliative Care prior to beginning training. The San Diego Medical Society conducts physician credentialing for San Diego Hospice & Palliative Care.

Applicants with current or previous postgraduate medical training must provide documentation and verification of approved training from the program director or supervisor of the previous training.

Graduates of foreign medical schools will need to submit documentation with English translation so that the credentials may be evaluated. Photocopies of all examination results, letter/score results and visa/citizenship papers must bear official seals and include dates and certificate numbers. If the applicant has a current visa, the status must include entry and expiration dates.

Salary All fellows will receive a stipend based on the salary guidelines of the University of California.

Additional Support for Research Fellows who are interested in additional research training and have faculty sponsorship may apply to federal or private agencies for research funding for subsequent years.

Benefits All fellows will have access to the following benefits while they are training at SDHPC:

  • Malpractice insurance
  • Healthcare insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Mileage reimbursement (based on IRS guidelines)
  • Vacation Fellows receive 24 Paid Time Off (PTO) days per year. All vacation must be scheduled well in advance with the program director. Adequate coverage for the fellow's responsibilities must be assured

    Educational Leave Fellows receive up to one week of educational leave per year.

    CPS will reimburse fellows for reasonable expenses to attend one educational / scientific meeting per year. It is expected that the majority of fellows will attend the annual meeting of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine or the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Clinical Conference.

    If there are compelling reasons, other educational activities may be considered.

    Funding for travel to additional meetings may be available for fellows who are asked to present their research.

    Applications Fellows are usually selected 3 to 18 months before the training period begins on July 1st. Applicants for either Fellowship Training Program are encouraged to submit their complete application packages as soon as they determine that they are seriously interested in a career in palliative medicine. Applications are accepted throughout the year.

    A complete application package includes:
    1. Completed application form
    2. Current curriculum vitae
    3. Personal statement
    4. Three letters of recommendation
    5. Evidence of medical licensure
    6. Evidence of US citizenship, residency or an appropriate educational visa.

    Download application instructions (PDF)

    Download an application form (fill in fields in WORD) (DOC)

    Download an application form (PDF)

    Return Application Please return all application materials to:

         The Fellowship Coordinator
         Center for Palliative Studies
         San Diego Hospice & Palliative Care
         4311 Third Avenue
         San Diego, CA 92103-1407

    Selection / Interview Process All applications will be reviewed by the Program Director. Selected candidates will be interviewed by multiple members of the CPS interdisciplinary faculty. Candidates will be judged on their:

  • strength of prior training
  • demonstrated clinical competence
  • potential for excellence in a career in palliative medicine
  • Interviews are conducted by appointment only. Applicants should consult directly with the Fellowship Coordinator, CPS at: +1.619.278.6412 or fellows@sdhospice.org

    Candidates will be notified of their status by the Program Director soon after completing their interviews.

    For More Information
    About the fellowship program, contact the Fellowship Coordinator, CPS at: +1.619.278.6412 or fellows@sdhospice.org

    About San Diego Hospice & Palliative Care, see www.sdhospice.org

    Abuut the Center for Palliative Studies, see www.cpsonline.info

    About the City of San Diego, see www.signonsandiego.com

    Contact CPS
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    Copyright: © 2004, 2005, 2006, Center for Palliative Studies at San Diego Hospice & Palliative Care. All Rights Reserved
    Reproduction: Permission to reproduce and distribute this document for non-commercial educational purposes is granted when the copyright statement is displayed. For any other uses, please contact the Center for Palliative Studies at San Diego Hospice & Palliative Care.
    Last Updated: April 14, 2007