Ira Byock, MD, Founder/Chief Medical Officer

IraByockMDIra Byock, MD is a leading palliative care physician, author, and public advocate for improving care through the end of life.

He serves as Founder/Chief Medical Officer for the Institute for Human Caring of Providence Health and Services, based in Torrance, CA. The Institute advances efforts to measure, monitor and improve person-centered care system-wide and supports culturally diverse communities in expanding models of caring.

Dr. Byock is Professor of Medicine and Community & Family Medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He served as Director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire from 2003 through July 2013.

Dr. Byock has been involved in hospice and palliative care since 1978, during his residency. At that time he helped found a hospice home care program for the indigent population served by the university hospital and county clinics of Fresno, California. He is a Past President (1997) of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. During the 1990s he was a co-founder and principal investigator for the Missoula Demonstration Project, a community-based organization in Montana dedicated to the research and transformation of end-of-life experience locally, as a demonstration of what is possible nationally. From 1996 through 2006, he served as Director for Promoting Excellence in End-of-Life Care, a national grant program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Dr. Byock has authored numerous articles on the ethics and practice of care. His research has led to conceptual frameworks for the lived experience of advanced illness, subjective quality of life measures, and simple, effective life-completion counseling. His leadership in development of groundbreaking prototypes for concurrent care of people through the end of life has been foundational to advancing patient-centered care.

Byock’s first book, Dying Well, (1997) has become a standard in the field of hospice and palliative care. The Four Things That Matter Most, (2004) is used as a counseling tool widely by palliative care and hospice programs, as well as within pastoral care. His most recent book, The Best Care Possible (March 2012) tackles the crisis that surrounds serious illness and dying in America and his quest to transform care through the end of life. It has been praised by the Wall Street Journal, the Economist and other major publications, and won the Annual Books for a Better Life Award in the category of Wellness.

Dr. Byock has been a consistent advocate for the rights of dying patients and their families. His awards include:
  • National Hospice Organization’s Person of the Year (1995)
  • National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship’s Natalie Davis Spingarn Writers Award (2000)
  • American College of CHEST Physicians’ Roger Bone Memorial Lecture Award (2003)
  • National Association of Catholic Chaplains’ Outstanding Colleague Award (2008)
  • American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine’s Community Leadership Award (2011)
  • Books for a Better Life Award – Best Wellness Book: “The Best Care Possible” (2013)
  • Visionary of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, as recognized by the voting membership of the Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (2014)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (2014)
  • Pioneer Medal for Outstanding Leadership in Health Care, HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (2014)
Byock has been a featured guest on national television and radio programs, including NPR’s All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, and On Being, CBS 60 Minutes, Fox and Friends, and PBS The News Hour. More information is available at