Alejandra Palma is currently a Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Chile in Santiago, Chile. Along with her academic position, she is the Continuous and Palliative Care Section Head at the University of Chile’s Clinical Hospital, where she works as a clinical attending physician.
Since 2005, Dr. Palma has been dedicated to the clinical and academic development of palliative care in her home country, Chile. Between 2005 and 2014, she developed and implemented a clinical palliative care program at the country’s Pontifical Catholic University. Since 2014, she has been developing the discipline of palliative care at the Clinical Hospital of the University of Chile, which is the largest public university in the country. Dr. Palma has been working with other members of the Palliative Care Medical Society of Chile to achieve the recognition of palliative medicine as a subspecialty. Thanks to the group’s efforts, in 2020 the National Autonomous Certification Corporation of Medical Specialties (CONACEM) initiated the official certification of palliative care professionals: Dr. Palma is currently chair of CONACEM’s Palliative Medicine Committee.
In the field of research, she has published on a variety of topics, particularly those related to symptom assessment, communication, decision making, spirituality, and inpatient palliative care. In the field of teaching, Dr. Palma has created palliative care courses for undergraduate medical students, as well as spearheaded theoretical and practical instruction for residents of specialization programs, including geriatrics, oncology, hematology, internal medicine, and critical care medicine. She has had an active role in the continuing education of professionals in Chile, such as lecturing at scientific events and strongly promoting telemedicine. She created the University of Chile’s Interregional Palliative Care Telecommittee (2016-2021), a forerunner to the current Interuniversity Palliative Care Telecommittee of the Palliative Care Medical Society of Chile. Thanks to these telecommittees, the country’s rural and urban medical professionals have free access to continuing education in palliative care.
Dr. Palma specialized in internal medicine at Chile’s Pontifical Catholic University, then pursued a postgraduate palliative care program at the Jules Bordet Institute at Brussels Free University, Belgium. She is currently a candidate for a master's degree in bioethics at the University of Barcelona (site of a UNESCO Chair in Bioethics), which has allowed her to explore aspects of clinical ethics that deepen her personal professional development as well as her roles as a teacher and researcher.
Dr. Palma joined IAHPC as a member in 2008, and became part of the IAHPC Board in January 2023.
She enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, cooking (and eating!), running, and reading.