Michael Rabow, MD


Medicine Home, Palliative Medicine

Michael W. Rabow, MD, FAAHPM, the Helen Diller Family Chair in Palliative Care, is a Professor of Clinical Medicine and Urology and Associate Chief of Education & Mentoring in the Division of Palliative Medicine, Department of Medicine, at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Rabow attended UCSF for medical school and general internal medicine residency training.  He completed fellowships at UCSF in general medicine, as well as in medical education research and is board-certified in internal medicine and hospice & palliative care. For 25 years previously, Dr. Rabow was in the Division of General Medicine and continued an active primary care practice along with his work in palliative care.

Program Development
Dr. Rabow directs a leading outpatient palliative care program-- the Symptom Management Service-- at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.  One of the largest palliative care programs in a cancer center nationally, the Symptom Management Service currently provides outpatient palliative care co-management in more than 30 half-day clinics weekly across three campuses at UCSF. He was the founding director of the UCSF/Mount Zion Hospital and Bakar Hospital Palliative Care Consultation Services. 

Dr. Rabow is a national expert in outpatient palliative care research and service delivery. He has conducted both controlled and longitudinal trials of outpatient palliative care consultation, as well as multiple surveys of current outpatient palliative care consultation practices nationally. He is currently part of a PCORI study examining home-based palliative care. He lectures widely and has published over 60 papers in peer-reviewed journals in the areas of palliative care, spirituality, family caregiving, and end-of-life care education.

An expert in Community-Based Palliative Care, Dr. Rabow also serves as a consultant to medical centers nationally working to develop or expand their palliative care services, and as a consultant to numerous prominent professional or philanthropic organizations dedicated to expanding palliative care access and quality. Dr. Rabow served as the lead of the project advisory board for the “Improving Palliative Care in the Outpatient Setting” (IPAL-OP) initiative at the Center to Advance Palliative Care. He directed the outpatient palliative care service assessment team for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Dr. Rabow is on the advisory board to the Palliative Care Institute of the California State University at San Marcos, which provides online education and certification for members of the palliative care interdisciplinary team.

Dr. Rabow is one of the leads of the UCSF Palliative Care Leadership Center (PCLC) and a member of the curriculum development committee for the PCLC Initiative nationally. The PCLC Initiative has trained more than 1000 hospital- and community-based palliative care programs in the United States. Previously, Dr. Rabow helped direct the California Hospital Initiative in Palliative Services, the first program to support the development of hospital-based palliative care services in California. In addition, Dr. Rabow served as a technical advisor and member of the leadership team for the Archstone Foundation’s Hospital-Based Palliative Care Service Innovations project.

Dr. Rabow is the founding director of the Center for Education in Palliative Care at UCSF/Mount Zion, which also serves as the central hub for palliative care education across the UCSF enterprise. Dr. Rabow is an active member of the UCSF Academy of Medical Educators. He was Assistant Editor for the bimonthly section in the Journal of the American Medical Association entitled “Perspectives on Care at the Close of Life.” This series now appears as a palliative care textbook, Care at the Close of Life. For 15 years, he served as the Director of the Center for the Study of the Healer’s Art at the Institute for the Study of Health and Illness at Commonweal in California. Dr. Rabow is the Associate Editor of the world’s best-selling annually-updated general medicine textbook, Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment. Dr. Rabow is the executive producer of “The Caregivers” documentary film and accompanying family caregiver handbook.

Major Awards
In addition to numerous UCSF teaching awards and awards for research presentations at national meetings, in 2016, Dr. Rabow was selected as the winner of the AAHPM PDIA National Palliative Care Leadership Award. He is a past recipient of the Soros Project on Death in America award and the Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Award.

2018 - Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion Training, University of California
M.D., 1993 - School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
Residency, - School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
Honors and Awards
  • The Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Award, The Hastings Center, 2012
  • Geriatrics Abstract Award, “Palliative and Oncologic Co-Management: Symptom Management for Outpatien, Society of General Internal Medicine, 2011
  • Honorable Mention, UCSF Exceptional Physician Award, UCSF, 2011
  • Second Place, Best Paper Award, International Conference on Cancer Education, American Association of Cancer Education, 2010
  • Essential Core Teaching Award for Outstanding Lecture from the UCSF Class of 2012, UCSf, 2010
  • American Association of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Paper Award, “Filming the Family: Evaluation, AAHPM, 2009
  • Best Research Poster, AAMC Western Regional GEA/GSA Annual Conference, AAMC, 2004
  • California Clinician-Educator Award, Society of General Internal Medicine, 2004
  • Outstanding Lecture Award from the UCSF Class of 2006, UCSF, 2004
  • David E. Rogers Junior Faculty Education Award, Society of General Internal Medicine, 2002
  • Project on Death in America, Faculty Scholar, Soros Foundation, 2002
  • Robert H. Crede Award for Excellence in Teaching, UCSF, 2000
  • UCSF/Mount Zion Medical Residency Teaching Award, UCSF, 1999
  • Alpha Omerga Alpha, UCSF, 1993
  • Summa Cum Laude, Harvard University, 1987
  1. Requiring the Healer's Art Curriculum to Promote Professional Identity Formation Among Medical Students.
  2. The Palliative Care - Promoting Assessment and Improvement of the Cancer Experience (PC-PAICE) Project: A Multi-Site International Quality Improvement Collaborative.
  3. In Search of Hospice Information: Consumer Information Available on Hospice Compare and Yelp.
  4. Embedded palliative care for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer: a mixed-methods pilot study.
  5. Generalist Palliative Care in the California Safety Net: A Structured Assessment to Design Interventions for a Range of Care Settings.
  6. Thinking Outside the Visit: Primary Care Patient Perspectives on Helpful Advance Care Planning Methods.
  7. The Experience of Complex Pain Dynamics in Oncology Outpatients: A Longitudinal Qualitative Analysis.
  8. A Longitudinal Study of Predictors of Constipation Severity in Oncology Outpatients with Unrelieved Pain.
  9. Expanding Access to Home-Based Palliative Care: A Randomized Controlled Trial Protocol.
  10. Adult Cancer Pain, Version 3.2019, NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology.
  11. Top Ten Tips Palliative Care Clinicians Should Know About Telepalliative Care.
  12. Feasibility of Implementing a Palliative Care Intervention for People with Heart Failure: Learnings from a Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial.
  13. Dignity Therapy Led by Nurses or Chaplains for Elderly Cancer Palliative Care Outpatients: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial.
  14. Palliative care and imaging utilisation for patients with cancer.
  15. Advance Care Planning in Community: An Evaluation of a Pilot 2-Session, Nurse-Led Workshop.
  16. Filling the Gap: Creating an Outpatient Palliative Care Program in Your Institution.
  17. What We Do: Key Activities of an Outpatient Palliative Care Team at an Academic Cancer Center.
  18. Symptom Management and Palliative Care in Pancreatic Cancer.
  19. The value of embedding: integrated palliative care for patients with metastatic breast cancer.
  20. What Impact Do Chaplains Have? A Pilot Study of Spiritual AIM for Advanced Cancer Patients in Outpatient Palliative Care.
  21. "She Would Be Flailing Around Distressed": The Critical Role of Home-Based Palliative Care for Patients with Advanced Cancer.
  22. The Current State of Palliative Care for Patients Cared for at Leading US Cancer Centers: The 2015 NCCN Palliative Care Survey.
  23. Insisting on the Healer's Art: The Implications of Required Participation in a Medical School Course on Values and Humanism.
  24. The Costs of Waiting: Implications of the Timing of Palliative Care Consultation among a Cohort of Decedents at a Comprehensive Cancer Center.
  25. New Frontiers in Outpatient Palliative Care for Patients With Cancer.
  26. Fostering a Quality of Care Culture in Community-Based Palliative Care: What Will It Take?
  27. "Taking your place at the table": an autoethnographic study of chaplains' participation on an interdisciplinary research team.
  28. Concurrent urologic and palliative care after cystectomy for treatment of muscle-invasive bladder cancer.
  29. Perceptions of palliative care among hematologic malignancy specialists: a mixed-methods study.
  30. Author response to "scientific rigour is far more than a matter of sample size".
  31. A statewide survey of adult and pediatric outpatient palliative care services.
  32. Spiritual well-being among outpatients with cancer receiving concurrent oncologic and palliative care.
  33. Pain medication management processes used by oncology outpatients and family caregivers part II: home and lifestyle contexts.
  34. Pain medication management processes used by oncology outpatients and family caregivers part I: health systems contexts.
  35. Chemotherapy near the end of life.
  36. Helping patients with serious illness live well through the promotion of adaptive coping: a report from the improving outpatient palliative care (IPAL-OP) initiative.
  37. Teaching in relationship: the impact on faculty of teaching "the Healer's Art".
  38. Oncologist factors that influence referrals to subspecialty palliative care clinics.
  39. Moving upstream: a review of the evidence of the impact of outpatient palliative care.
  40. The natural history of symptoms and distress in patients and families following cystectomy for treatment of muscle invasive bladder cancer.
  41. Adult cancer pain.
  42. Palliative and oncologic co-management: symptom management for outpatients with cancer.
  43. The diverse landscape of palliative care clinics.
  44. Professional formation and deformation: repression of personal values and qualities in medical education.
  45. The relationships among hope, pain, psychological distress, and spiritual well-being in oncology outpatients.
  46. Caring for the older person with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  47. Palliative care in castrate-resistant prostate cancer.
  48. Determination of cutpoints for low and high number of symptoms in patients with advanced cancer.
  49. Comparing Symptom Burden in Patients with Metastatic and Nonmetastatic Cancer.
  50. Leveraging external resources to grow and sustain your palliative care program: a call to action.
  51. Professional development and the informal curriculum in end-of-life care.
  52. Symptom management in gynecologic malignancies.
  53. The intersection of need and opportunity: assessing and capitalizing on opportunities to expand hospital-based palliative care services.
  54. Adult cancer pain.
  55. Filming the family: a documentary film to educate clinicians about family caregivers of patients with brain tumors.
  56. Compassionate care during the endless hours.
  57. Outpatient palliative care practices.
  58. Professional formation: extending medicine's lineage of service into the next century.
  59. Promise of professionalism: personal mission statements among a national cohort of medical students.
  60. Emotional Intelligence in Internal Medicine Residents: Educational Implications for Clinical Performance and Burnout.
  61. Palliative care for patients with head and neck cancer: "I would like a quick return to a normal lifestyle".
  62. Management of intractable nausea and vomiting in patients at the end of life: "I was feeling nauseous all of the time . . . nothing was working".
  63. The Healer's art: education in meaning and service.
  64. What it's really like: the complex role of medical students in end-of-life care.
  65. Palliative management of fatigue at the close of life: "it feels like my body is just worn out".
  66. Authentic community as an educational strategy for advancing professionalism: a national evaluation of the Healer's Art course.
  67. Do as I say: curricular discordance in medical school end-of-life care education.
  68. Evaluating the California Hospital Initiative in Palliative Services.
  69. Screening the soul: communication regarding spiritual concerns among primary care physicians and seriously ill patients approaching the end of life.
  70. The Healer's Art: professionalism, service and mission.
  71. Ethnic differences in pain among outpatients with terminal and end-stage chronic illness.
  72. Palliative care for patients with heart failure.
  73. Overcoming the false dichotomy of "curative" vs "palliative" care for late-stage HIV/AIDS: "let me live the way I want to live, until I can't".
  74. Supporting family caregivers at the end of life: "they don't know what they don't know".
  75. The comprehensive care team: a controlled trial of outpatient palliative medicine consultation.
  76. Drawing on experience: physician artwork in a course on professional development.
  77. Patient perceptions of an outpatient palliative care intervention: "It had been on my mind before, but I did not know how to start talking about death...".
  78. Practical considerations in dialysis withdrawal: "to have that option is a blessing".
  79. Alzheimer disease: "it's okay, mama, if you want to go, it's okay".
  80. Content on end-of-life care in major pharmacy textbooks.
  81. Responding to requests regarding prayer and religious ceremonies by patients near the end of life and their families.
  82. The comprehensive care team: a description of a controlled trial of care at the beginning of the end of life.
  83. Responding to requests for physician-assisted suicide: "These are uncharted waters for both of us... ".
  84. Volunteer patient advocacy: an interdisciplinary course on attending to patients at the end of life.
  85. Management of dyspnea in patients with far-advanced lung disease.
  86. Caring for bereaved patients: "All the doctors just suddenly go".
  87. Discussing religious and spiritual issues at the end of life: a practical guide for physicians.
  88. Deficiencies in end-of-life care content in medical textbooks.
  89. End-of-life care content in textbooks.
  90. End-of-life care.
  91. End-of-life literature.
  92. Perspectives on care at the close of life. Serving patients who may die soon and their families.
  93. Promoting end-of-life content in cardiology and other textbooks.
  94. End-of-life care.
  95. Patients' needs at the end of life.
  96. Better books: end-of-life care content in best-selling oncology textbooks.
  97. Doctoring to Heal: fostering well-being among physicians through personal reflection.
  98. Improving end-of-life care information in cardiology and other medical textbooks.
  99. Music to be born to, music to die to.
  100. Finding our way--perspectives on care at the close of life.
  101. An evaluation of the end-of-life care content in leading neurology textbooks.
  102. End-of-life care content in 50 textbooks from multiple specialties.
  103. Beyond breaking bad news: how to help patients who suffer.
  104. A failing grade for end-of-life content in textbooks: what is to be done?
  105. The head of his bed.