Hospice and Palliative Care Fellowship

Education and Research

The palliative care curriculum at VCU is distinguished by several unique features:

  • The faculty consists of an internationally recognized leader in oncology and palliative care, Tom Smith, M.D.; a world-renowned pain specialist, Patrick Coyne, RN MSN; a geriatrics expert, Cathy Kelso, M.D.; and educational and ethics specialist, Laurie Lyckholm, M.D.
  • Medical faculty, Smith, Lyckholm, Bhushan, Yanni and Kelso, are all board certified in hospice and palliative medicine.
  • Smith, Lyckholm and Coyne are all faculty scholars in the Project on Death in America.
  • The Thomas Palliative Care Program is one of the original 10 Millbank Pioneer Palliative Care programs in the nation.
  • The Thomas Palliative Care Program is one of eight RWJ-funded Palliative Care Leadership Centers of the Center to Advance Palliative Care.  
  • The Thomas Palliative Care Program is the recipient of the prestigious 2005 Circle of Life Award.
  • The MCV Campus launched “Pounce on Pain” initiative during National Pain Awareness Week, in which hundreds of clinicians, patients and visitors are educated on multiple aspects of pain management.
  • The palliative care program provides the fellow with experience in continuity of care for patients across the continuum, from home to outpatient clinic to inpatient palliative care unit.
  • Pain management in the Thomas Palliative Care unit is interdisciplinary, including M.D., M.S.N., Pharm.D., R.N., PT/OT, M.S.W., psychological counseling and pastoral care. It is at the cutting edge of technology, with multiple physicians and nurses trained in the use of epidural trials, ketamine, intravenous lidocaine infusions, use of the Medtronic Pump for intrathecal infusion of opioids, local anesthetic, clonidine and now ziconitide. Fellows are given intensive hands-on training in all these techniques and provide direct inpatient and outpatient care for patients managed by these techniques, as well as more conventional approaches with the use of a significant armamentarium of opioids and adjunctive therapies.