Meet AAHPM President Christine Ritchie
Christine Ritchie, MD MSPH FACP FAAHPM, who became president of the AAHPM Board of Directors at the 2015 Annual Assembly, discusses her professional background and goals for the Academy in the coming year.
Q. What led you to the specialty of hospice and palliative medicine?
A. My journey to hospice and palliative medicine started in the Appalachian Mountains prior to medical school, when I had the privilege of caring for a woman dying of ovarian cancer. Had hospice and palliative medicine been available when I was a resident, I would have selected it as part of my training, but it didn’t exist as a specialty at the time. I did have the opportunity to obtain fellowship training in geriatric medicine, which gave me the opportunity to care for many individuals with serious illnesses and functional challenges.
While at the University of Louisville, I served as medical director of our VA hospice unit and had the good fortune to receive on-the-job training from David Weissman, MD, through the Robert Wood Johnson-funded End-of-Life Palliative/Care Education Resource Program, and from Joe Rotella, MD MBA HMDC FAAHPM, a seasoned hospice physician and medical director. Learning from these two remarkable people ignited a spark in me to devote my life to better understand and address quality of life for those with chronic illness and high illness burden, most often intensified in the advanced stages of illness, where comorbid conditions, symptom burden, changing care goals, and functional decline add to patient complexity.