In the field of medicine, nearly half of both trainees and seasoned practitioners report some symptoms of burnout. Though not long in hours, the deeply meaningful work of palliative care can be taxing in other ways.

At UCSF, we feel it is critical to train not only clinically excellent providers, but balanced human beings who can grow and thrive in the richly rewarding field of palliative care. The result is our Reflective/Resilient Practitioner curriculum.

Led by Naomi Saks (MA, MDiv, BCC), this 40+ hour longitudinal curriculum focuses on “inoculating” fellows with best practice knowledge and skills for connecting with the deep meaning and core values that underlie their work, as well as an understanding of what corrodes and undermines that meaning. This curriculum provides a unique opportunity for our fellows to reflect on their experiences as palliative care clinicians in a safe and supportive environment, cultivate self awareness, and explore their personal responses to such challenging aspects of their work as suffering, loss, moral distress and grief.

I felt well-supported, well-educated, and best of all, well-prepared.

Jessica Safra ‘11


Every session introduces a new self-care practice—including everyday mindfulness, written reflections, meditation, reading and responding to literature, art and creativity—and an evidence-based discussion of topics of interest and relevance to sustainable practice. These include dealing with conflict, morally challenging scenarios in palliative care, professional grief, personal death awareness, and many others. Fellows have found this course of training to provide a core emotional and relational foundation for their fellowship experience as a whole and graduates consistently rate it as one of the best aspects of their training.

Built into our resiliency curriculum are several half-day retreats. In addition, fellows participate in the annual half-day Symptom Management Service retreat and the full-day city-wide Palliative Care retreat.