Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider, 36, is just three years into her career as a hospitalist at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, but she is already drawing attention in the palliative care community. Two years ago, Ungerleider turned a family inheritance into a philanthropy aimed at improving palliative care, in which keeping a patient emotionally and physically comfortable takes precedence.
Among her first successes: The Ungerleider Fund (formally known as the Ungerleider Palliative Care Education Fund) backed the short documentary film “Extremis,” which was shortlisted for a 2017 Academy Award nomination, and which tells the story of patients in the ICU at life’s end.
STAT caught up with Ungerleider over coffee at a San Francisco cafe. This conversation has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
It feels like death is having a bit of a moment.
Oh yeah. Death is hot right now. That’s what everyone tells me. People outside of medicine hear that I’m interested in end-of-life issues, and they’ll say “Listen. Death is hot.” Fantastic!
Where is this coming from?
It’s a weird fascination, I think — especially for millennials. Friends and colleagues are fascinated by this topic. But it seems like such an important thing for us to be thinking about and planning for.