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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Arden O’Donnell, MPH, MSW, LICSWArden O'Donnell, MPH, MSW, LICSW

Palliative Care Social Worker, Brigham and Women's Hospital


Educational and Professional Experience


BA, Neuroscience, Mount Holyoke College


MPH, Boston University School of Public Health


MSW, Smith College School for Social work


Pediatric Advanced Care Team Social Work Fellow, Boston Children’s Hospital


Palliative Care Social Worker, Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Dana-Farber Cancer Center, Boston


Research Assistant/Palliative Care Social worker, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Current Teaching and Research Interests

Arden O'Donnell, MPH, MSW, LICSW is currently enrolled in a PhD program at Boston University. She is currently concluding a small clinical trial with Akshay Desai, MD, MPH entitled "A Focused Palliative Care Intervention for Recently Hospitalized High-Risk Patients with Heart Failure." The primary objective is to assess the impact of a standardized, social-worker led, longitudinal palliative care intervention on alignment of patient and physician understanding of prognosis and goals of care with secondary objective on assessing the impact on documentation of advanced care planning and end of life preferences, quality of life and health care utilization.

Arden began her work in Palliative care working primarily with HIV/AIDS patients in the US and in Africa. She received her MPH and worked for 5 years in Zimbabwe and Lesotho, providing support to Home Based Care teams who were providing Palliative Care.

She began her Social Work career in 2008 as a Pediatric Palliative Care Fellow at Children's Hospital and went on to become a member of the Brigham and Women's Palliative Care Service, playing a key role in the development of the Cardiology based Pre-VAD assessment and transplant evaluations.

Arden has a dedication to teaching and is an Adjunct Professor at Smith College School for Social Work. She has taught communication workshops and palliative care skills to residents, medical students, and most recently is providing teaching to the Cardiology Fellows.

Arden is also dedicated to helping children who have experienced the loss of a parent, through running Coalition for Courage a Zimbabwean-based orphan care program, and through being a dedicated foster and adoptive parent.