The Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care (HMS CPC) seeks to help create a world where all patients living with serious illness are cared for by clinicians who address their suffering and promote their quality of life. The Center for Palliative Care is recognized internationally for the quality of its educational programs, rich history, and ongoing contributions to the development and growth of the field of palliative care.

The need for palliative care specialists working with skilled, multi-disciplinary teams continues to expand, driven in part by an aging US population, the global epidemic of chronic disease, rising healthcare costs, and patients’ increasing role in treatment decisions.

By educating future generations of physicians, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals, the HMS CPC serves as a model for the best practices in palliative care education and practice.

The Center for Palliative Care’s multi-disciplinary programs engage physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and other allied health professionals who benefit from its:

  • Large, distinguished faculty of clinical and research experts
  • Emphasis on a biopsychosocial and spiritual approach that focuses on communication skills training, recognizing prognostic awareness, eliciting patients' values and wishes, and engaging families in goals of care discussions
  • Program development and teaching skills fundamental to leading palliative care education and practice programs
  • Innovative, interactive, and experiential teaching methods
  • Networking, peer support, and supplementary learning opportunities during and after program participation


The mission of the HMS CPC is to foster an interdisciplinary community of clinicians, educators, and researchers to promote and disseminate compassionate, evidence-based care for all people living with serious illness and their families.   


Our vision is for the HMS CPC to be the global home for palliative care education, innovation, and community. 


Photo of Vicki Jackson, MD“The goal of palliative care is to provide an added layer of support for people facing serious health problems, their caregivers, and their families. As palliative care clinicians, we work as a team with other healthcare providers to help people with serious illness live as well as they can, for as long as they can. Palliative care is more than pain management and end-of-life conversations—it helps patients grow and live during serious illness, and it can be joyous.”

Vicki Jackson, MD, Co-Director, Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care

James Tulsky, MD “Unfortunately, many clinicians who care for people living with advanced serious illness frequently do not possess the knowledge or skills to effectively manage symptoms, communication challenges, or care transitions. Because the number of palliative care specialists is very small and current training programs will never meet the demand...the bulk of these patients’ needs must be met by training existing clinicians in core palliative care skills.”

James Tulsky, MD, Co-Director, Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care