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

Senior Physician, Adult Palliative Care Division, Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Division of Palliative Medicine, Department of Medicine, 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 and Residency, Primary Care Internal Medicine, San Francisco General Hospital/UCSF


Clinician Educator/Attending, General Internal Medicine, Indian Health Service (Kayenta, AZ), George Washington University School of Medicine (Mary's Center Community Health Center), and Georgetown University School of Medicine


Clinician Educator/Attending, Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/ Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School


Faculty, Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care


Curtis Prout Fellow in Medical Education, Harvard Medical School

Current Teaching and Research Interests

Dr. Schaefer is a passionate clinician and teacher with extensive experience teaching both specialty and generalist palliative care at the undergraduate, graduate and continuing medical education levels. Her particular academic interest include defining essential medical student and resident generalist palliative care competencies, and teaching communication competencies for serious illness to non-palliative care fellows and practicing clinicians.

Dr. Schaefer has been a PCEP faculty member since 2008, and is a course director (with Eva H. Chittenden, MD, FACP), for the HMS Center for Palliative Care's Practical Aspects of Palliative Care and Palliative Care for Hospitalists and Intensivists courses. Her current research includes a national survey to measure cardiology fellows' training in palliative and end-of-life care, and a randomized controlled trial of a social work led outpatient advance care planning intervention for recently hospitalized patients with heart failure. Dr. Schaefer is board certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and was recently named a Fellow of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.