The 2015 Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards in the early career category honor Mary K. Buss, MD, MPH, a medical oncologist and palliative medicine specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where she built and directs the outpatient palliative care clinic. The selection committee noted that she has “altered the perception of palliative care within the institution” and cited “her role as an important bridge between oncology and palliative care.”

Dr. Buss joined the palliative care service at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 2007 and in 2013 she launched the outpatient palliative care clinic, staffed by a multidisciplinary team. The clinic sees patients referred with complicated symptoms, psychosocial/spiritual distress, and complex medical decision-making needs. Dr. Buss received the 2014 Katherine Swan Ginsburg Faculty Award, which recognizes a department of medicine faculty member for being an effective and inspiring role model for clinical care and humanism in medicine.

Mark Aronson, MD, interim chief for the division of general medicine and primary care at Beth Israel Deaconess, who nominated Dr. Buss, commended her for supporting the growth and development of palliative care at their institution. “When she first joined our faculty, the palliative care consultation service was staffed by a nurse practitioner and a part-time social worker with occasional physician oversight,” she wrote. “Dr. Buss and another faculty member were the first physicians to regularly see palliative care consults in the hospital. Dr. Buss’s hard work and that of her colleagues quickly altered the perception of palliative care within the institution and improved understanding of what palliative care can provide for patients and families.”

Nationally, Dr. Buss has served on the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine’s cancer special interest group, which is dedicated to collaboration between palliative and oncology. As a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology palliative care steering committee, Dr. Buss is helping to define core palliative care competencies specific to oncologists. 

Dr. Buss received her medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1997.