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In The Newsroom

Leap to Success
Friday, December 07, 2018
The "Leap to Confidence" program celebrates its 50th graduation ceremony on Wednesday, December 12, at 2 p.m. in East Village, San Diego. Twenty women will be graduating at this milestone event. Leap to Confidence is a personal leadership workshop offered at no cost to women emerging from major life challenges to help them reach their greatest potential.
Associated Builders and Contractors San Diego
Friday, June 19, 2015
Apprentices and journeymen from the Class of 2015 are employed at businesses throughout San Diego County.
Associated Builders and Contractors San Diego
Monday, June 15, 2015
Three recipients receive on-the-job training, tools and tuition free classroom education.

June 10, 2010

Melissa DelaCalzada
                    (619) 278-6139;

Class of 2010 Fellows Graduate from World Class Training Program
at San Diego’s Institute for Palliative Medicine

(San Diego) – Seven extraordinary physicians from across the United States will graduate as specialists in hospice and palliative medicine from The Institute for Palliative Medicine in San Diego, California on Thursday, June 24, from 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Mission Valley Hilton. The ceremony marks ten years of training such specialists for service in San Diego and across the country.

The training program at The Institute for Palliative Medicine is the nation’s largest. The program has trained more than 10% of all US physicians with specialty training in this new field. The ability to relieve suffering and improve quality of life has never been more powerful in the history of medicine than it is now. Such training programs assure that this knowledge is made practically available to patients who need it.

The Palliative Medicine Fellowship Program at The Institute is led by Dr. Gary Buckholz and is recognized as one of the most rigorous, cutting-edge courses of study, designed for physicians to learn new specialist skills, typically with a goal of pursuing a long-term career as a clinician or academician in hospice and palliative medicine.

“Physician fellows who complete the program go on to practice in a variety of settings, whether in a specialty inpatient setting, at a patient’s home, in long-term care facilities or in a consultative capacity at a hospital,” said Dr. Buckholz. “This training prepares the physician to work in a leadership role in hospice and palliative care, education or research.”

To get this kind of training, physician fellows work with with home hospice care teams throughout the county, in the Inpatient Care Center in Hillcrest, the only hospice-hospital in California, the Inpatient Care Center at GlenBrook Skilled Nursing Facility in Carlsbad, and the hospital-based consultation services at Scripps Mercy and UCSD Hillcrest and Thornton hospitals.

Dr. Charles von Gunten, Provost of The Institute, says, “Our physician fellows graduate with unparallel skill. As they seek positions, they are in high demand both in San Diego, and across the country.”

Class of 2010 Physician Fellows’ Biographies

Dr. Susan (Sue) Bodtke
lives in La Jolla. Dr. Bodtke earned her medical degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1985 and completed her Residency in Family Medicine at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. Dr. Bodtke spent two years developing a Department of Family Medicine in the United Arab Emirates. After project ended, she returned to the U.S. and worked with homeless women and children at a Salvation Army shelter clinic as the primary physician. Dr. Bodtke returned to the Middle East to improve emergency medical services for the country of Qatar. Upon coming home, Dr. Bodtke read an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) describing hospice and palliative medicine, ultimately leading her to San Diego for training.

Dr. Peter Brown lives in Tucson, Arizona. He graduated from the University of Vermont College of Medicine in 1994 and completed his Residency at the University Medical Center Department. of Emergency Medicine in Tucson. In December 2008, he completed a two-year fellowship in Integrative Medicine through the University of Arizona. He expects to return to Tucson to practice full time in his new subspecialty.

Dr. Ann Marie Case
lives in Austin, Texas. After earning her undergraduate degree from Princeton University, Dr. Case earned her medical degree from the University of Texas Medical School in Houston in 1992 and completed a Pediatrics Residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Dr. Case went into private practice in the under-served Hispanic community for several years, after which she took a hiatus to raise three children. In 2007, she returned to work as a physician consultant for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in the Office of the Inspector General, Medicaid fraud investigation office. Dr. Case is fluent in Spanish. She will return to Austin to practice.

Dr. Sonya Christianson
completed her Family Medicine Residency and served as Chief Resident at Scripps Mercy Hospital, Chula Vista. Dr. Christianson earned her medical degree from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in 2006. A rotation at The Institute for Palliative Medicine - a required part of her residency - cemented Dr. Christianson’s desire to pursue this subspecialty. She believes that palliative medicine physicians have the privilege of witnessing the most emotionally and physically complex moments in patients’ lives, and consequently are able to connect on an uncommon level.

Dr. Abilene (Abi) Enriquez earned her medical degree from the University of the City of Manila, College of Medicine in Manila, Philippines and then completed her Family Medicine Residency through the Stanislaus Family Medicine Residency Program in Modesto, Calfiornia. Dr. Enriquez is fluent in Tagalog and conversant in Cebuano, a local dialect in the Philippines.

Dr. Carrie Nelson-Vasquez
earned her medical degree from UCSD and then completed her Family Medicine Residency at Kaiser Permanente in Orange County where she was academic Chief Resident. Dr. Nelson-Vasquez decided on a career in hospice and palliative medicine after completing a required rotation with the Institute for Palliative Medicine at San Diego Hospice as part of medical school at UCSD. She subsequently pursued a research project using relaxation techniques to decrease pain and increase autonomy of hospice patients. This experience helped her to understand the value and the need to see patients not just as unfortunate victims of illness, but rather as unique individuals who are part of a complex environment.

Dr. Gary Pasternak earned his medical degree from UCSD in 1983 and completed his Internal Medicine Residency at West Virginia University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed a Masters in Public Health degree in Environmental Health Sciences from UC Berkeley in 1987. Since 1989, he has been a Clinician Educator at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, California, one of the state’s public hospitals. Dr. Pasternak will return to San Jose where he will work full time in hospice and palliative medicine.

About The Institute for Palliative Medicine

The Institute for Palliative Medicine at San Diego Hospice is internationally recognized for its excellence in palliative care education and research. Dedicated to the relief of suffering through the transformation of health care, it focuses on discovering, demonstrating and disseminating strategies for palliative care in existing health care systems whether here in San Diego or throughout the world. Physicians and healthcare professionals from around the globe come to The Institute for Palliative Medicine to study. Home to the country’s largest palliative medicine physician fellowship program, The Institute also provides education to more than 2000 health care students and professionals each year. The Institute helped pioneer the palliative medicine subspecialty approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties in 2006. For more information, visit online at