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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Kristen SchaeferKristen Schaefer, MD

Director of Medical Student and Resident Education

Director, Supportive Cardiology Initiative, Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School


Educational and Professional Experience


B.S. Princeton University


M.D. Harvard Medical School


Internship in Primary Care Internal Medicine, UCSF/ San Francisco General Hospital


Residency in Primary Care Internal Medicine, UCSF/ San Francisco General Hospital


Clinician Educator in General Internal Medicine and Palliative Medicine


Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Current Teaching and Research Interests

Dr. Schaefer has extensive experience teaching palliative care communication competencies to medical students, residents, fellows, and practicing physicians. She has worked as a clinician educator in general internal medicine and, more recently palliative medicine, in diverse clinical settings for fifteen years. She is the Course Director of a required BWH Medicine Residency palliative care communication workshop (including Objective Structured Clinical Exams), and for a residency palliative care consult elective. She is also the Co-Director of the DFCI medical student Elective in Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at DFCI, a core faculty member of the Harvard Medical School Patient-Doctor III longitudinal curriculum for third year medical students, and has been a PCEP faculty member since 2008. In addition, she teaches locally, regionally and nationally about the role of palliative care in advanced heart failure. Dr. Schaefer is board certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Dr. Schaefer is currently leading (with Eva H. Chittenden, MD, FACP and a national working group) a modified Delphi process to define consensus palliative care competencies for graduating medical students and residents. She is also implementing and assessing a pilot required outpatient palliative care rotation for primary care medicine residents, and a required third year medical student 4-hour interactive introductory session to the principles and practice of palliative care.