Palliative Medicine

Our Faculty

Learn more about the faculty’s clinical expertise and research

Go »

The Palliative Medicine Service in the Department of Medicine offers a one-year clinical fellowship in palliative medicine accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Individuals who have completed a residency in internal medicine, family medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry, neurology, anesthesiology, surgery, pediatrics, emergency medicine, radiology, or obstetrics and gynecology are eligible. Physicians who have trained in internal medicine and have completed, or plan to complete, training in medical oncology are especially encouraged to apply.

Physicians who are seeking board certification in pain medicine should not apply to this program.  We encourage these  individuals to apply to the Anesthesiology Pain Management Fellowship offered by the Pain Service in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine. Individuals who have completed residency training in psychiatry should consider applying for the Clinical Fellowship Program in Psychosomatic Medicine and Psycho-Oncology offered by the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Program Highlights

  • Intensive hospital-based palliative care training at an eminent cancer center
  • Academic leadership in cancer pain management since the 1950s
  • Highly regarded communication skills training program offered through the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Board eligibility for certification in hospice and palliative medicine

Educational Objectives

The program’s mission is to train physicians to become specialists and leaders in the field of palliative medicine, especially those planning a career in an academic cancer center. The focus of training will be the development of expertise in:

  1. Diagnosis and treatment of pain syndromes associated with cancer and cancer therapy

  2. Diagnosis and treatment of non-pain symptoms associated with cancer and other life-limiting illness

  3. Diagnosis and treatment of the neurological, psychiatric, and psychosocial complications of cancer and other life-limiting illness

  4. Communication skills with patients, families, and professional colleagues

  5. Clinical research methods used to address symptom control and quality of life

  6. Basic principles and practical applications of the medical ethics and legal aspects of pain management and palliative care

  7. Cultural, spiritual, religious, and existential aspects of palliative care

  8. Care of the imminently dying patient including management of terminal symptoms

  9. Assessment and management of patients in community settings, such as home and long-term care

Program Rotations and Curriculum

The trainee will spend the majority of his or her rotation time on Memorial Sloan Kettering’s pain and palliative care  inpatient consultation service. Approximately 80 to 100 consultations, requiring the daily involvement of the attending staff, take place per month. These consultations include several pediatric palliative care consults, as Memorial Sloan Kettering has the largest pediatric oncology program in the tri-state area. Generally, four fellows will be concurrently assigned to the consultation service.  Trainees also rotate through our inpatient pain and palliative care unit, where acute palliative care is provided to patients with cancer. To provide breadth and balance in the clinical experience, the other core rotations include four weeks on the Palliative Care Service at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, four weeks of hospice experience with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York Hospice Program, and four weeks at a long-term care facility. In addition, fellows have four weeks of elective time and four weeks of vacation.

Each trainee is attached to one of the ambulatory pain and palliative care clinics and mentored by an attending physician. This continuity clinic takes place one afternoon per week and extends through the whole year. These patients are referred from the inpatient pain and palliative care consultation service or from other outpatient clinics, typically for assistance with pain management. The outpatient experience allows fellows to follow patients over time and across care settings and to learn about community services and support for patients and families.

All trainees participate in the weekly teaching and conference activities of the Palliative Medicine Service. Trainees attend the weekly Palliative Medicine Service Grand Rounds and Medicine Grand Rounds at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Trainees are responsible for presenting clinical cases at the weekly Palliative Medicine Multidisciplinary Service Meeting. Didactic sessions are held throughout the year on a wide variety of topics related to palliative care and pain management. Fellows will also receive formal training in physician-patient communication via the Communication Skills Training Program developed by the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences here at Memorial Sloan Kettering. All fellows are required to complete scholarly work. This includes but is not limited to conducting journal club presentations, preparing a lecture for the fellows’ board review, and giving a presentation at the Palliative Medicine Grand Rounds. Fellows are encouraged to complete a research project of their choice with mentorship from one of the Palliative Medicine faculty. In the past, research projects by fellows have resulted in publications or in abstracts presented at scientific meetings. There is also the option for an additional year of support to pursue an original mentored research project.


We encourage interested individuals to submit an application a year and a half in advance of their anticipated fellowship start date. We will accept applications on a rolling basis until we have filled all of our fellowship positions for the given academic year.

Length of Program

One year


Applicants must have completed an internal medicine, family medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry, neurology, anesthesiology, surgery, pediatrics, emergency medicine, radiology, or obstetrics and gynecology residency from a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and attained qualification to sit for the board examination in their specialty. All applicants must have completed USMLE Steps I, II, and III.

Foreign medical graduates with equivalent qualifications are also eligible to apply. They must have completed a US or Canadian residency and hold a valid ECFMG certificate.

Number of Positions


How to Apply

The Palliative Medicine Fellowship program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center encourages the utilization of the December cycle of the ERAS application system to apply. Applications will be reviewed on a continuous basis until we have filled all of our fellowship positions. Interviews will start in February; thus your prompt application is encouraged. You will be required to submit three letters of recommendation (one must be from your residency or current program director), a personal statement, and test scores (USMLE, ECFMG).

Alternatively, if you do not use the ERAS system, or the current ERAS cycle has closed (i.e. after May 31st) please send your CV and the required information to the address below. Please note: Your CV must include all positions held from medical school to the present, including any positions or programs that were begun but not completed. All time periods must be explained, in the format month/year to month/year, and in chronological order.

Additional Information

The fellowship program actively recruits women and minority candidates.


The Barbara Ziegler Palliative Care Educational Program is dedicated to the promotion and advancement of pain and palliative care educational and research activities. The Barbara Ziegler Palliative Care Education Program supports the Palliative Medicine Fellowship.

Program Director


Brett Wagner
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Palliative Medicine Fellowship, Box 8
1275 York Avenue
New York, NY 10065