Steven Z. Pantilat, MD

Chief, Division of Palliative Medicine

Welcome to the Division of Palliative Medicine!

The mission of the Division of Palliative Medicine is to advance and innovate in clinical care, education, and research in palliative care. Our goal is to discover, define, and promote the highest quality of care and quality of life for people with serious illness and their loved ones. As we like to say, our focus is to help people with serious illness, “live as well as possible for as long as possible.” We pursue this goal in each of our core missions of clinical care, education, and research.

Across all our missions, we are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. A core value for us, reinforced daily by our work, is that every person's life is equally important and valuable, and every person is deserving of dignity and respect. We have learned that caring for a diverse patient population starts with being genuinely interested and respectful, and that this philosophy must be embraced by all members of our division. We believe that in the same way that diversity enriches our clinical practice and reveals the breadth and depth of human experience, diversity enriches our work and professional relationships. We are committed to celebrating and growing diversity within the DPM. Yet, now more than ever, we know that our efforts cannot be limited to our division, and we must do more to effect real change and address systemic racism, injustice, disparities, and inequality in medicine and our society. In addition to accessing resources and training through the Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, and across UCSF, we are engaging in specific activities in the DPM to address some of these important issues. The DPM Anti-Racism Task Force is developing a vision, plan, and concrete steps we will take as a division across all our missions to address systemic racism, increase diversity, and pursue justice. The DPM Women’s Council is addressing issues of gender bias and supporting women across the DPM. Given our work upholding and supporting people’s humanity and dignity, we are committed to advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion in every aspect of our work.

We are proud of our wide reaching, longstanding, and high quality clinical services available in our hospitals, clinics, cancer center, patient homes, and via telemedicine. Consistent with the core principles of palliative care and its focus on the whole person and family, the DPM includes doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, researchers, and staff committed to promoting our vital mission.

We are equally proud of our many outstanding educational programs including our flagship Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship that includes adult, pediatric and geriatrics/palliative care fellows. We teach students across UCSF and beyond in a wide variety of formats from intensive clinical rotations, to long- and short-term continuing educational courses, to online lectures and presentations. We are also a hub for clinicians seeking to deepen their skills in communication and for teams that want to establish, grow and sustain palliative care services.

Our research seeks to understand and address the fundamental challenges faced by patients with serious illness and their loved ones. We study how to improve the quality of care provided to seriously ill patients including those with neurologic conditions and cancer, to best support patients and their caregivers, improve and expand palliative care in public hospitals, and many others. We collaborate with colleagues across UCSF, the US and the world. Our goal is to ensure that the care we and others deliver is based on the best evidence to provide the most benefit to our patients and their families.

We are committed to ensuring that all of us in the DPM have the opportunity to grow professionally, to pursue our passions, and to lead balanced, full lives. Our commitment to resiliency, self care, wellness, diversity, equity and justice acknowledges the rewards, opportunities, and challenges of palliative care. We know and practice the idea that “connection (to others) is protection (from burnout).”

We are excited about our mission and the important and rewarding work we have the privilege and honor to do and welcome you to connect with us and share in this good work.