News & Events

Find out the latest palliative care news and learn about upcoming events from our palliative care team.

Latest News

Emotional dry cleaning: A writer helps doctors share their stories — and their pain

STAT News published an article about Laurel Braitman, a writer, who provided a safe space for healthcare workers to tell their stories. One of the healthcare workers that was featured in the article was Dr. Shireen Heidari, one of Stanford's Palliative Care doctors.

Storytelling Project

Want to share your story? 

Have you seen a palliative care provider or palliative care team as an extra layer of support to help with your illness?

How has palliative care made a difference in your life?

Would you recommend palliative care to others?

We are looking for individuals to share their experience with palliative care and how it impacted their life. Your story will be used in a short film designed to educate others about palliative care.

Finding a New Mantra

Dr. Shireen N. Heidari published a narrative piece in the New England Journal of Medicine. The article contains context about anxiety and remembering that we're human.

PCCOE Community Partnerships Team at AAHPM

Hospice News

Community Partners Key to Raising Hospice Awareness, Access Among Underserved - Hospice News

The Stanford Palliative Care Center of Excellence Community Partnership Team members Ashley Bragg and Grant Smith presented alongside colleagues Gayle Kojimoto, from the USCF MERI Center, Sandy Chen Stokes, the the Chinese American Coalition for Compassionate Care, and Sarah Nouri, from the San Francisco Palliative Care Workgroup to talk about institution-community partnerships as a possible solution to addressing gaps in community awareness and knowledge of palliative care.

by Shireen Heidari, MD

Stanford Palliative Care physician, inpatient consult service


Being Present During The Dying Process - CLOSLER

“I don’t know what to expect, I’ve never seen someone die before,” my patient’s loved one said. I’ve heard a version of this statement many times. Often, they’re looking to their medical teams to provide guidance. Clinicians sometimes feel uncomfortable talking about the dying process or being physically in the room when someone is actively …

When a patient shares something that really catches you by surprise, listen closely and ask open-ended questions to fully understand their perspectives.

Shireen Heidari, MD

Stanford Palliative Care physician, inpatient consult service


How to Respond to Unexpected Things Your Patient Tells You - CLOSLER

It is not uncommon to hear those we care for make big statements about their hopes, fears, worries, or goals. Dr. Shireen Heidari provides healthcare workers with some strategies for how to respond to and carry these statements entrusted to us by our patients.

When a patient shares something that really catches you by surprise, listen closely and ask open-ended questions to fully understand their perspectives.

Kavitha Ramchandran, MD

Palliative care physician, oncologist, thoracic specialist, internal medicine physician

The Lancet Respiratory Medicine

How could we forget?

In this essay, Dr. Kavitha Ramchandran shares a personal experience of her sister's care during COVID, reminding us of the necessity to stay aware and present to all symptoms and conditions.

The call came at 7. Derek was crying. 'Natalie had a massive heart attack. She's in critical care. They are not sure she's going to make it.' I don't even remember what I answered.

Mukund Ramkumar, MD

Stanford Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellow, internal medicine physician

The Lancet Respiratory Medicine

Bearing witness in the time of COVID

Stanford Medicine Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellow Dr. Mukund Ramkumar describes bearing witness to a man's final moments, easing the worries and anxieties of his daughter.

Now, I held my patient's hand. I remained present and gently stroked his hand, and thought of how loving his daughter was towards her father.

The Stanford Daily

Q&A: ‘Hoping for the best, planning for the rest’: Shireen Heidari talks palliative care amid the pandemic | The Stanford Daily

Often palliative care teams are meeting people at a very vulnerable time…sometimes holding someone’s hand while they walk through hard things is part of that.

A common phrase I hear palliative clinicians say is, “hoping for the best, planning for the rest.” A palliative care team can support people and those close to them while they are trying to navigate both the day-to-day and planning for the future. We try to focus on making each day as good as possible.

Shireen Heidari, MD

Palliative care physician, family medicine physician, Clinical Assistant Professor

The Lancet Respiratory Medicine

Touch, and the absence of it

Palliative care physician Dr. Shireen Heidari reflects on the challenges of providing care to people during COVID 19.

We feel the loss of our non-verbal tools acutely. We try to convey emotion with our eyes, our tone of voice, with our gloved hands, knowing that a swarm of people in masks and gowns standing over the bed must be disorienting to someone who is already isolated.

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month | Lane Library Blog

Throughout the month of November, Lane Library is joining Stanford Palliative Care Center of Excellence and organizations across the nation to raise awareness of the benefits of palliative care. Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is both a philosophy of care and a type of medical care for people living with a serious illness. This type of… Read more

The Mercury News

Letter to the Editor: Palliative Care is About How You Live

Mercury News Letter to the Editor written by Stanford Palliative Care Health Education team members, Claire Bleymaier, RN, MPH, and Grant Smith, MD for November 6, 2020

Palliative Care Focuses on People, Not Medical Conditions

An explanation of palliative care in Santa Clara County's Public Authority Services newsletter, written by Dr. Grant Smith, Stanford palliative care physician. This newsletter goes out to recipients of In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS).

During a typical day in my clinic, I will see patients who are newly diagnosed, getting treatments to cure their illness, and getting treatments that may not cure them but can help them live longer with fewer symptoms.
I wish I had reached out to palliative care sooner in my diagnosis, but at least I know they are still available for assistance after my treatment ends. 


Message to family caregivers: There's help, even during COVID-19 - Scope

Experts from the Stanford Caregiver Center offer help for people doing the sometimes overwhelming work of caring for ill or vulnerable loved ones.

Caregivers' concerns have shifted to reflect life in the pandemic, with more questions about how to avoid a rehabilitation center stay after being hospitalized, for example, or how to prepare for family caregiving at home. When possible, the center connects caregivers to organizations that can help.

Colleen Vega, RN, MS, CNS, CEN, ACPHN

Palliative Care Advanced Practice Provider, Inpatient

Bright Spots from Doctoral Past, Present, & Future

Bright Spots from Doctoral Past, Present, & Future

Colleen Vega (RN, MS, CNS, CEN, ACPHN) is a DNP student, poised to graduate with her DNP degree in Spring of 2021. She recently shared the exciting news of being accepted to present at two upcoming conferences, and receiving the APP SHINE scholarship to apply to conference expenses.

Participating in national organizations has given me the opportunity to present on topics I enjoy.

Rebecca Aslakson, MD, PhD

Board certified in palliative medicine, anesthesia, and surgical critical care. Clinical Associate Professor, Palliative Care and Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine 

Stanford News

Stanford awards inaugural Faculty Women’s Forum Awards at virtual ceremony | Stanford News

The Faculty Women’s Forum presented the Outstanding Leader Award to Jisha Menon, an associate professor of theater and performance studies, and the Outstanding Sponsor Award to Rebecca Aslakson, an associate professor of medicine and of anesthesiology.

The Faculty Women’s Forum honored Aslakson “for tangibly creating opportunities and opening doors, with bottomless energy, relentless advocacy for women trainees and enormous generosity of spirit.”

She is the best mentor I’ve had in medicine to date and clearly a very strong proponent of women’s success.
Dr. Aslakson is the textbook definition of what a good mentor should be.

Stanford BeWell

Palliative care 101 | Stanford BeWell

Palliative care is often misunderstood. Simply defined, it is an interdisciplinary branch of health care that helps patients manage serious illnesses. To shed light on what palliative care is and the patients it serves, BeWell spoke with Stephanie Harman, MD, clinical section chief of palliative care in the Stanford Division of Primary Care and Population Health.

Perhaps the biggest misconception about palliative care is that it is only appropriate for patients at the end stages of an illness. However, palliative care spans the whole breadth of the diagnosis — including while patients are receiving curative treatments.
Patients often seek palliative care because symptoms like nausea, vomiting, pain and fatigue affect their ability to handle daily life. They can tell their physicians that they are interested in pursuing palliative care or physicians can recognize when a patient may benefit and refer the patient to a palliative care program. Patients can also refer themselves to a program without a doctor referral.


Advance care planning: The importance of expressing your medical wishes - Scope

Advance care planning allows people to reflect on what is important to them, and what care they'd want if they become critically ill, says Stanford physician Grant Smith.

Young people should think about this, too.
 I try to think of it as something that is empowering and comforting, knowing that family members would have guidance to make decisions and that it wouldn't all be on their shoulders.


Coronavirus anxiety: How to handle fears about illness and overcrowded hospitals

Coronavirus may tax hospitals with more critically ill patients than they can handle. Ask yourself hard questions now and make end of life plans.

Author:  Dr. Karl A. Lorenz, MD, MSHS, Palliative Care Physician, Professor of Medicine, Stanford Univ. School of Medicine

Questions to ask include, 'What are you most concerned about if you are facing a COVID-19 infection?' 'What are you most afraid of?'
'What is most important?' 'What if an artificial breathing machine were being considered?' 'Have you had any thoughts about care not being available?