The 2015 Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards in the mid-career category honor Bruce E. Condit, MD, FHM, medical director of palliative care and an attending physician at the Central Maine Medical Center and medical director of Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice, an outpatient hospice team, both in Lewiston . The selection committee commended him for “creating something from nothing” by bringing palliative care to urban and rural Maine.
Dr. Condit knew little about palliative care during his residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston until he discovered that one of his clinic patients had died at home with hospice services. Around that time, his interest in palliative care was sparked further when he met an ethicist-physician who exemplified the ways that many clinicians practiced palliative care without a specific designation, and yet with great care and compassion. Dr. Condit returned to his home state of Maine as the first hospitalist at Central Maine Medical Center. He then established the first palliative care program in the region. Under his leadership, it has grown from one full-time clinician to an interdisciplinary team that sees 678 patients a year.
Dr. Condit continues to work as both a hospitalist and a palliative care provider, finding that each role informs the other “in wonderful ways.” “Unlike my patients in my Boston residency, rural Mainers were much more open to the reality that there are conditions that we can’t survive and that pursuing care at all costs and dignity in dying are sometimes at odds with each other,” he said. “I’m sure that in those early days I learned much more about end-of-life care from my patients than they did from me, and they helped me to recognize and develop the role that a hospitalist can play for patients dealing with progressive chronic conditions, especially as they approach dying. As a hospitalist, I continue to enjoy this challenge in helping patients decide for themselves when the burdens of treatment outweigh the benefits, and how to take comfort in deciding when enough is enough.”
Jacqueline P. Fournier, NP, C. AHPN, who nominated Dr. Condit, praised his character, saying that his “small town Maine roots laid the groundwork for the practitioner/healer he would become.” She continued, “He exudes competence in an inviting way and he listens, inspiring others. Bruce leads by encouragement and example.”
Dr. Condit received his medical degree from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 2000.