Dr. Ira Byock
Ira Byock, M.D., is Director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and a Professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. While in residency in the late 1970s, personal circumstances surrounding his father’s battle with pancreatic cancer guided Dr. Byock into the field of hospice and palliative care. During this same time, he helped establish a hospice home care program for the indigent population served by the university hospital and county clinics of Fresno, California. In the 1990s, Dr. Byock co-founded and investigated for the Missoula Demonstration Project inMontana. This community-based program dedicated to the research and transformation of end-of-life experience was designed to demonstrate what might be possible at a national level. From 1996 through 2006, Dr. Byock served as Director for Promoting Excellence in End-of-Life Care, a national grant program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
A practicing physician and consistent advocate for the voice and rights of terminal patients and their families, Dr. Byock has received numerous awards and is a frequent guest on prominent national television and radio programs. He has also written widely on the ethics and practice of palliative and end-of-life and health care system change. Dying Well, his first book (1997), is a standard in the field. And his 2004 book, The Four Things That Matter Most is widely used for counseling purposes by healthcare and pastoral care providers working with people suffering from advanced illness. The Best Care Possible (March 2012), his most recent book, has been praised by the Wall Street Journal and was recognized by Politico as a key issue book for the 2012 presidential campaign. Confronting the crisis that envelops serious illness and dying in America, the book articulates Dr. Byock’s mission to transform end-of-life care.
These images show Dr. Byock counseling and caring for patients at the end of their lives; helping them die with dignity and comfort. With palliative care being increasingly adopted as a new standard for helping the terminally ill and their families, Dr. Byock will prevail as a pioneer in promoting this type of compassionate care.