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White named director of Division of Palliative Medicine

Division focuses on relieving suffering, enhancing life for patients, families

by Jim DrydenJanuary 23, 2019

Matt Miller

Patrick White, MD, an assistant professor of medicine, has been named director of the newly formed Division of Palliative Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The appointment was announced by Victoria J. Fraser, MD, the Adolphus Busch Professor and head of the Department of Medicine.

“Patrick is nationally recognized as an outstanding clinician and educator in end-of-life care,” Fraser said. “He has exceptional passion and dedication to providing comprehensive, multidisciplinary and compassionate end-of-life care to patients and their families. Patrick also has a broad vision to develop new clinical, educational and research programs to better integrate supportive care, palliative medicine and hospice services so that patients have access to the best possible care to reduce pain and suffering and improve quality of life.”

Palliative medicine focuses on relieving the suffering of patients who have advanced diseases, and enhancing quality of life for patients and their families. It emphasizes addressing symptoms and using compassionate communication, combined with extra psychosocial and spiritual support, to provide valuable information, resources and comfort.

White is the chief medical officer of BJC Home Care and BJC Hospice. He provides clinical oversight and support to more than 650 clinicians and staff caring for more than 11,000 patients annually. In this role, he helped launch Evelyn’s House, a 16-bed hospice facility that opened in 2017 to serve adult and pediatric patients and their families. He previously was co-chief medical officer of the University of Pittsburgh’s affiliated hospice.

He is completing a doctorate in comparative effectiveness research in the University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Program, with a focus on improving end-of-life care. He is actively engaged in clinical research to help reduce pain and nausea in patients with advanced cancer, including an NIH-funded clinical trial examining innovative therapies to reduce nausea and pain in those with advanced cancer.

“This is an amazing opportunity to work with some of the leading clinicians from Washington University to improve symptom management and enhance support for patients and families,” he said. “I am especially grateful for the work of Dr. Maria Dans and the Barnes-Jewish Hospital team for building an amazing foundation for this work.”

White earned his medical degree from the Ohio State College of Medicine and Public Health, where he was a dean’s scholar. He trained in internal medicine at Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and he completed a fellowship in palliative medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

He was selected as one of the inaugural “Hospice and Palliative Medicine Inspirational Leaders Under 40” by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and he was one of seven physician leaders selected to the inaugural Hospice Medical Director Leadership Council. He also was appointed to the Missouri Palliative Care and Quality of Life Interdisciplinary Council and has served as a technical expert panel adviser to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on improving the quality of care at end of life. He recently was named one of the “40 under 40” by the St. Louis Business Journal for his leadership and service to the St. Louis community, and he is a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

The Division of Palliative Medicine springs from a collaborative effort between the Department of Medicine at Washington University, BJC HealthCare, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 1,500 faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is a leader in medical research, teaching and patient care, ranking among the top 10 medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Jim retired from Washington University in 2023. While at WashU, Jim covered psychiatry and neuroscience, pain and opioid research, orthopedics, diabetes, obesity, nutrition and aging. He formerly worked at KWMU (now St. Louis Public Radio) as a reporter and anchor, and his stories from the Midwest also were broadcast on NPR. Jim hosted the School of Medicine's Show Me the Science podcast, which highlights the outstanding research, education and clinical care underway at the School of Medicine. He has a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.