Harvard Medical SchoolCenter for Palliative Care

Our Mission

The Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care (HMS CPC) aims to ease suffering and enhance the quality of care for patients and their families dealing with life-threatening and/or serious illness, through fostering leadership and supporting outstanding educational programs in palliative care. By educating future generations of physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals, the Center serves as a national and international resource for the best practices in palliative care education and practice.


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Mary Buss, MDMary K. Buss, MD, MPH

Director, Ambulatory Palliative Care Services, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Medical Oncologist, Gynecologic Cancers, Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School


Educational and Professional Experience


Williams College, Williamstown, MA


Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC


Internship and residency, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center


Chief Medical Resident, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center


Fellowship, Oncology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center


Fellowship, Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


Masters of Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health

Current Teaching and Research Interests

Dr. Buss currently practices both as a medical oncologist and a palliative medicine specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), where she built and now directs the outpatient palliative care clinic.

Within the palliative care clinic, Dr. Buss has built processes for collecting data on quality of life, symptom burden, and advance care planning. This database lays the groundwork for conducting quality improvement projects and clinical research assessing the impact of palliative care on patient-reported outcomes, and quality of care. She and her colleagues are testing different models for integrating palliative care into their cancer center. Having demonstrated feasibility of an integrated model, they are starting to compare patient outcomes in the integrated model to the standard care.

As a practicing oncologist, Dr. Buss regularly practices primary palliative care and is acutely aware of the need to enhance primary palliative care competencies among physicians. She has developed palliative care curricula across multiple departments at BIDMC, including Internal Medicine residents, anesthesia pain fellows, and pulmonary/critical care fellows. For oncology fellows, she organizes a curriculum that includes a monthly seminar and an intensive half-day communication skills training retreat. Dr. Buss has had the opportunity to facilitate small group training as part of Vital Talk communication skills training programs. Currently, she is developing the curriculum for BIDMC's Hospice Palliative Medicine Fellowship, opening in July 2017.