Q&A with Kathleen Doyle, MD
January 14th, 2020
Kathleen Doyle, MD is an attending physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Director of the Harvard Interprofessional Palliative Care Fellowship. She is interested in Palliative Care education and Clinician Wellness.
Why did you decide to work in palliative care?
During college, a family friend and hospice nurse offered me a job as a hospice home health aide. I expected my work to be hard and sad. Yet, as I cared for the patients, I learned not only about both the frailty of human life but also about the resilience of the human spirit. Though it took me many years to realize that I wanted to specialize in Palliative Care, I recognize that initial work had a profound effect on me.
When thinking about the future of palliative care, what excites you the most? What do see as the biggest challenges?
As the fellowship director, I interview many prospective fellows. Each year I am bowled over by the doctors, nurses, social workers and pharmacists that are entering our field. I can assure you that the future of our field is bright! Their personal stories and the work that they have done are inspiring. I just wish we could train them all. When we welcome a new class of Palliative Care fellows each year, their passion, dedication and energy reinvigorates me and reminds me how lucky I am to do this work.
In terms of challenges, I think that our field must strive to recruit and educate more diverse trainees into the field of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. We know that more diverse teams provide better care to all patients and help us to reach more diverse patient populations as well.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
The people. I work with a team hardworking, smart, kind, supportive and fun people every day. Even on the hardest days, they help me to find joy and I am so grateful for that.
Tell us about your background.
I grew up in an Irish/Italian Catholic family of 6 kids. My mother is a social worker and my father a Spanish professor. We ate dinner together every night, usually with a few added guests. My parents’ table is still one of my happy places. Now, when we all sit down to eat, we are 28 yet it is still true that there is always room for one more at my parents’ table.
In your spare time, what do you do for fun?
I spend time with my husband and four and six-year-old daughters. We all love to cook and to travel. I taught my kids to make homemade pasta in the pandemic to make up for our missed trip to Italy. We all look forward to exploring the world when it’s safe to travel again.