Charles von Gunten is widely known as a pioneer in the new specialty of hospice and palliative medicine. His exposure as a medical student to a radically different approach for a patient with ‘fixed delusion’ profoundly framed Charles philosophy and delivery of compassionate care that continues decades later. The ‘behavior problem’ he would have treated with antipsychotic medications insisted she was a dispossessed countess from Europe, quite appalled at her treatment. When a volunteer presented a few marabou trimmed peignoirs purchased from a local thrift store, her behavior changed dramatically to ‘model patient’. Later, while an intern ‘on call’, hospice nurses gently guided Charles to tailor the automatic approach learned as an internist to treat the patient at hand—and also, he realized—not to impress the next morning attending. Assuring the very best care is disseminated to those who need it, wherever or whoever they are, remains the kernel for what he does.
Charles was the Founding Chairman, Test Committee, Hospice & Palliative Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine on behalf of 9 member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Palliative Medicine. He received a life-time achievement award from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine in 2011 when he was only 54 years old. When he was 56, the American Cancer Society gave him its prestigious pathfinder in palliative care award, in part for his work developing a palliative care program embedded in an NCI-designated cancer center. In 2015 he was named a top cancer doctor in Newsweek Health. He has been particularly interested in the integration of hospice and palliative care into standard medical care. He has published and spoken widely about hospice, palliative medicine, pain and symptom control.
There is a creativity to hospice and palliative medicine Charles finds endlessly stimulating. He also enjoys finding creativity in gardening, cooking, and playing the pipe organ for enthusiastic congregations who like to sing hymns.
- Adjunct Professor of Medicine, The Ohio State University College of Medicine
- Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Item Approval Committee, American Board of Internal Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Medicine Certification Exam
- Early model of hospital-based palliative care at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago
- Co-principal, EPEC Project, which launched physician specialization in palliative medicine
- Provost, Institute for Palliative Medicine at San Diego Hospice
- Develop large, integrated hospice and palliative medicine Program for OhioHealth
Education / Honors:
- BA, with honors, Brown University, 1978
- MD, with honors, University of Colorado, 1988
- PhD, with honors, University of Colorado, 1988
- Internal Medicine Residency, Northwestern University, 1988-1991
- Medical Oncology Fellowship, Northwestern University, 1991-1993
- Masters, Leadership of Healthcare Organizations, University of California, San Diego, 2010