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Dr. Christina Puchalski Named One of 30 Most Influential Leaders in Hospice and Palliative Medicine

Dr. Puchalski was recognized by members of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine for her work in the field

Christina Puchalski, MD, director of the George Washington University (GW) Institute for Spirituality and Health, professor of medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and medical director of professional health hospice of Washington, DC, was named one of the 30 most influential leaders in hospice and palliative medicine.

In celebration of 30 years serving the profession, the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) asked its 5,000 members to nominate whom they think are the leaders – or visionaries – in the field. They then asked members to vote for the top 10 among the 142 nominated. Puchalski is one of 30 physicians, nurses, and researchers recognized by peers for the important role she plays in advancing the field.

“I am honored to be named a ‘visionary’ by my peers and am particularly honored to be named alongside two of my very first mentors: Dr. Joanne Lynn and Dr. Joan M. Teno,” said Puchalski. “It is a tremendous privilege to care for people who are seriously ill.  Accompanying others in the midst of their suffering by offering compassion is a sacred act and opens to moments of deep grace and gratitude. “

Puchalski is a pioneer and international leader in the movement to integrate spirituality into ‎health care in clinical settings and medical education. As founder and director of the GW Institute for Spirituality and Health, she is recognized as a pioneer in raising the voice of the silent revolution in health care – ‎fully integrating spirituality into care systems to provide holistic, compassionate care and giving ‎voice to the spiritual or inner stories of patients, families, and clinicians, to a level of national and international dialogue and debate.‎ Her scholarship focuses on palliative care, ‎spirituality and health, and compassionate care as part of whole person health. She is recognized for her work in developing interdisciplinary educational curricula and innovative models of care.

Hospice and palliative medicine is the medical specialty that focuses on improving quality of life and relieving pain and other symptoms in seriously ill patients. Palliative care is provided to patients who are continuing to receive treatments to try to cure or control their disease, regardless of their prognosis. Hospice is a specific type of palliative care for patients whose life expectancy is six months or less. Hospice and palliative care also helps patients and families understand their treatment options and make decisions about their care, and provides information on spiritual and psychosocial services, support for family and caregivers and grief counseling.

“This program recognizes key individuals who have been critical in building and shaping our field over the past 30 years,” noted Steve R. Smith, AAHPM CEO. “These individuals represent thousands of other healthcare professionals in this country who provide quality medical care and support for those living with serious illness -- each and every day.”

More information on the Visionaries project, including the list of 30 Visionaries, can be found on the Academy’s website www.aahpm.org.