Hospice and Palliative Care Fellowship

The Division of Hematology/Oncology and Palliative Care at the VCU School of Medicine offers a one-year fellowship training program in hospice and palliative care medicine. Our fellowship program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

The hospice and palliative care fellow will learn palliative care techniques through direct patient care on the Thomas Palliative Care Unit, as well as the palliative care consultation service. The fellows staff a weekly Pain and Symptom Management Continuity Clinic, mentored by pain and palliative care specialist Leanne Yanni. Home and nursing home hospice experience occurs on a regular basis through visits with the area’s local hospices. The palliative care experience offers ongoing training in long-term care and geriatrics and is focused on ethics and goals of care.

Each fellow spends two weeks a month at the VCU Medical Center on the Thomas Palliative Care unit, providing inpatient care and consultation; one week a month at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center, and one week a month on electives, participating in research, reading, teaching and providing hospice care. Electives include oncology care, radiation therapy, interventional pain management, spirituality and pastoral care, ethics consultation, and others.

Currently, fellows work with Hospice of Virginia, attending interdisciplinary team conferences, rounding on the inpatient hospice service, making home and nursing home visits and providing care as the primary hospice physician for many patients in several Central Virginia hospice programs.

The fellow is required to participate in both a scholarly and quality project in the area of his or her choice, with careful and attentive mentoring by palliative care attendings. The fellow is provided with administrative support and protected time for these projects. The palliative care fellow is also directly involved in education of medical students and residents from internal medicine, psychiatry and pediatrics.


The fellow should be an M.D. or D.O. with three or more years of residency training in an ACGME-accredited residency training program. Salary is commensurate with that of a PGY-4 at our institution.

When applicable (i.e. December through May), applicants may apply through ERAS and follow ERAS guidelines. When ERAS is not available, you may use the application below and mail it and any supporting documentation to the program coordinator. We fill our spots on a rolling basis as qualified applicants present themselves, so you are encouraged to apply early.

  • Required Documentation
  • Application [PDF]
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Medical school transcript (original or a notarized copy of the original)
  • Board scores (original or a notarized copy of the original)
  • Personal statement
  • Three letters of reference (must be original)
  • An evaluation from your residency program director or department chair (must be original)
  • A photograph

Please mail applications to:
Rachel Van Hart
1200 E. Broad Street
Box 980509
Richmond, VA 23298

If you have any questions, you may contact Rachel by phone at (804) 628-5016 or e-mail at rferguson@vcu.edu.

The Thomas Palliative Care Program

The Thomas Palliative Care Program began in the mid-1990s as a consultation service, and became a full-service program when the unit opened in May 2000. The program currently offers an active consultation service comprising a team of physicians and advanced-practice nurses who consult on referrals and assist with the management of pain, symptoms and definition of goals of care. Massey houses an 11-bed inpatient unit that provides physical, emotional, spiritual and practical support for patients and families. The program now provides about 1,500 to 1,800 pain and palliative care consultations a year throughout the hospital. About 500 patients are admitted directly to our service from the ER, other IP units and oncology clinics. Collaboration with many other divisions and departments is ongoing. In particular, a close relationship has developed with Pediatric Palliative Care, and the fellows participate in education and consultation in pediatrics on a regular basis.

The program is one of eight national centers to advance palliative care leadership, and is the national training site for programs that are interested in oncology. Of those six, we have the best evaluations and highest success rate for program initiation and maintenance. The Thomas Palliative Care Unit is the Virginia site for hands-on training, the Virginia Initiative for Palliative Care.

From the beginning, the Palliative Care Program has been continuously recognized, winning national and international awards.

  • 2009-10: Veterans Affairs Palliative Care Leadership Training Center
  • 2009: VCU Educational Innovation Award for helping to create the Palliative Care Leadership Program and the Virginia Initiative for Palliative Care
  • 2009: National Palliative Care Consensus Panel Quality of Care Award for best interdisciplinary high quality care (one of seven national winners)
  • 2008: Hematology Oncology News International HOPE award for clinical excellence for integration of palliative care into regular cancer care won by Division of Hematology/Oncology and Palliative Care
  • 2007: LifeNet Award for Service in organ transplantation through our involvement in donation after cardiac death
  • 2006: Best University Program by the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care
  • 2005: American Hospital Association’s Circle of Life award for being the best palliative care program in the nation
  • 2003: National Palliative Care Leadership Center for Cancer by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Advance Palliative Care
  • 2000: Milibank Memorial Fund Pioneer Award

Meet the Team

The palliative care fellows are taught not only by physicians and advanced practice nurses, but by nurses, social workers, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists, chaplains, dieticians, psychologists, pet and music therapists, volunteers and especially patients. The fellows play a central role on this team that is defined by common goals, values and esprit de corps.

  • Thomas Smith, M.D., medical director
  • Faculty scholar in the Project on Death in America
  • Expert in the fields of pain and symptom management and palliative care, as well as hematology/oncology
  • Massey professor of palliative care research
  • Patrick Coyne, RN, MSN, clinical director
  • Faculty scholar in the Project on Death in America
  • Expert in the fields of pain and symptom management and palliative care
  • Laurie Lyckholm, M.D., program director
  • Faculty scholar in the Project on Death in America
  • Attends and provides didactic lectures and case discussions for the fellows
  • A hematologist/oncologist and professor of bioethics and humanities
  • Leanne Yanni, M.D.
  • Attending physician and chief of the weekly Pain and Symptom Management (Fellow Continuity) Clinic
  • Cathy Kelso, M.D., M.A., Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center medical director of palliative care
  • Geriatrician with a special interest in communication and medical ethics who attends and mentors fellows
  • Anup Bhushan, M.D.
  • Clinical teacher and mentor
  • Provides a strong liaison between internal medicine and palliative care services
  • Bart Bobb, RN, ANP
  • Accomplished clinician who provides ongoing instruction in patient consultation for pain and symptom management
  • Craig Swainey, M.D.
  • Educator in palliative care with a concentration in communication, self-care, pain, symptoms and prognostication in patients with cancer