June 6, 2018

AAHPM Recognizes VITAS Medical Directors

Patient smiling while being comforted

VITAS Physicians—Leaders in the Field of Hospice

The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) and its more than 5,000 members support hospice and palliative medicine through advancement of clinical practice standards, fostering research, providing education and advocating public policy. 

One of the highest honors the Academy can bestow on a physician is recognition as a Fellow of the AAHPM. Joel Policzer, MD, FACP, FAAHPM,; Joette Greenstein, DO, FAAHPM; and Michael Nisco, MD, MBA, HMDC, FAAHPM are VITAS physicians who are among this elite group.  

Joel Policzer, MD—VITAS SVP of Medical Affairs and AAHPM 2018 Josefina B. Magno Distinguished Hospice Physician

Joel Policzer joined the AAHPM in the ‘80s, became a Fellow in 2004 and in 2018 earned the Josefina B. Magno Distinguished Hospice Physician Award recognizing a hospice medical director who provides high-quality services and innovative programs and who demonstrates exemplary dedication to the practice of palliative medicine in a hospice setting.

Part-time to Sr. VP Joel Policzer still sees patients, including those in the VITAS inpatient hospice unit where his hospice career began in 1985. But Joel has gone far with VITAS, from part-time hospice work to full-time to lifetime, from team physician to medical director to national medical director and, today, VITAS’s senior vice president of medical affairs.

In addition to seeing patients he recruits physicians, talking to doctors across the country. He teaches young physicians about hospice services, about knowing when curative care is no longer effective and how to suggest and achieve comfort care when that is the patient’s goal. Joel Policzer says hospice is a calling. For those who are called, he says, it’s the best job in the world.  

Michael Nisco, MD—VITAS Medical Director and AAHPM 2018 Visionary

In 2008 Mike Nisco earned his MBA by writing a case study of VITAS Healthcare. In 2017, he joined the VITAS staff in San Francisco. He is influenced to this day by the wisdom and caring of his mother, a nurse who instilled in him an appreciation of nurses and patients long before he became a physician. Her death without the benefit of hospice in 2002 pointed him toward palliative medicine, a controversial concept in Central California 15 years ago.

Joette Greenstein, DO—VITAS Medical Director and AAHPM Fellow

Joette Greenstein joined VITAS’s Columbus office in 2012 and became medical director in 2013. She is among the newest of 406 AAHPM fellows.