• Press Release

Robert M. Arnold, MD, Appointed Vice Chair for Professional Development at Mount Sinai’s Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine

  • New York, NY
  • (May 13, 2024)

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai announced today the appointment of Robert M. Arnold, MD, as Vice Chair for Professional Development within the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine. 

“A triple threat in medicine, Dr. Arnold is an expert clinician, educator, and researcher. We are thrilled that he will be coming on board at a time when patient demand is quickly escalating as a result of our aging population, while our workforce is undergoing a steady decline,” said R. Sean Morrison, MD, the Ellen and Howard C. Katz Professor and Chair of the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine

“Dr. Arnold’s arrival is part of our larger strategy to prepare for this shift in our population by training doctors in the science of palliative care as early in their careers as possible. With Dr. Arnold joining our faculty, we will bring the best care to all seriously ill patients and their caregivers.” 

Dr. Arnold, who will also be a Palliative Care attending physician, comes to Icahn Mount Sinai from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, Director of the Institute for Doctor-Patient Communication, and Medical Director of UPMC’s Palliative and Supportive Institute. He started the University of Pittsburgh Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics and was the Section Chief until 2023. He is a co-founder and Chair of the Board of Directors of VitalTalk, a not-for-profit company designed to promote better relationships between clinicians and seriously ill patients and their families. In addition, Dr. Arnold is a past President of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and of the Society for Health and Human Values. 

“I am enormously pleased to join Dr. Morrison and his team as we train the workforce who will care for our aging population and introduce them to the field of palliative medicine,” said Dr. Arnold. 

Dr. Arnold’s work focuses on how clinicians operationalize ethical precepts in the care of seriously ill patients, and the intersection of communication skills training, medical ethics, and palliative care to improve clinician-patient relationships. His research focuses on teaching palliative care communication skills to clinicians using both face-to-face courses and new technologies, and on understanding the impact of these educational interventions. He works with junior investigators to better understand the impact of primary palliative care interventions in oncology, cystic fibrosis, and cardiology. Dr. Arnold is also studying health care system-wide interventions to improve the experiences of seriously ill patients and their families. In addition, he teaches other clinicians to be more effective educators using evidence based educational methods gleaned from K-12 teachers. 

Mount Sinai was the first in the nation to offer a Geriatrics fellowship program 50 years ago. Anticipating the growing nationwide need for specialists as the population ages, the Brookdale Department recently introduced the Mid-Career Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine Fellowship, an innovative fellowship program aimed at doctors already board certified in internal, emergency, or family medicine. Building on this program, the Department offers a two-year LEAP geriatrics fellowship that trains doctors to assume leadership positions and promote changes in health care that better meet the needs of older, frail, and seriously ill adults. The curriculum helps fellows “Learn, Explore, Advocate, and Promote” (LEAP) into leadership positions. The training emphasizes communication and leadership skills, health care policy and delivery knowledge, and programmatic development and management skills. 

“Training our medical students and house staff to be skilled communicators is a major area of focus, and Dr. Arnold will bring great expertise to this area,” said Dr. Morrison. 

Dr. Arnold, who has received significant funding from the National Institutes of Health and private foundations, has published extensively on ethical issues in end-of-life care, hospice and palliative care, doctor-patient communication, and ethics education. He is a co-author of the textbook “Navigating Communication With Seriously Ill Patients: Balancing honesty with empathy and hope,” (2nd edition, 2024) which is widely read and highly regarded within the palliative care field. 

“I was drawn to palliative medicine because I wanted to study the emotional and ethical questions that present themselves when we care for seriously ill patients. What I have learned from my patients is that while I am the guide, it is their journey. They have taught me that I cannot make everything okay, but my being there is important to them,” say Dr. Arnold.

About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, receiving high "Honor Roll" status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties.

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