Shireen Heidari, MD is a palliative care and family medicine physician. She works as part of the inpatient palliative care consult team providing symptom management and support for patients and families facing any stage of a serious illness. Dr. Heidari is the program director for the Stanford University Hospice and Palliative Fellowship. She previously served as the clinical lead for the Stanford site of the PERIOP-PC Study, collaborating with the surgical department to evaluate the impact of early palliative care support for patients and family members preparing for major upper gastrointestinal cancer surgery.

Dr. Heidari has written about the importance of human connection and stigma around healthcare workers seeking help for their mental health in The New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, and The Intima. She hopes that by sharing her own story, she can continue being part of this conversation as we advocate for culture change in medicine and more sustainable practice.

Before moving to northern California, Dr. Heidari attended medical school at Boston University, completed her residency at UC San Diego where she served as chief resident, followed by palliative fellowship at UCLA. Outside of her clinical and mentorship work, she is likely writing creatively or outside with her husband chasing their dogs.

Clinical Focus

  • Family Medicine

Academic Appointments

Administrative Appointments

  • Program Director, Stanford University Hospice and Palliative Fellowship Training Program (2022 - Present)

Honors & Awards

  • Excellence in Service Award, Stanford Health Care (2023)
  • Outstanding Educational Innovations Award, Stanford Medicine - Division of Primary Care and Population Health (2023)
  • VitalTalk Faculty Leadership Award, VitalTalk (2023)
  • Annual Division Teaching Award, Stanford Medicine - Division of Primary Care and Population Health (2020)
  • Chief Resident, Family Medicine, University of California, San Diego (2014-2015)
  • Tomorrow’s Leader Award, American Academy of Family Physicians (2013)
  • Member, Gold Humanism Honor Society (2011-present)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Co-Chair, Education Special Interest Group, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) (2024 - Present)
  • Fellow, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) (2023 - Present)
  • Member, Fellowship Training Committee, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) (2023 - Present)
  • Member, Wellness Committee, Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) (2022 - 2023)
  • Member, Pegasus Physician Writers at Stanford (2016 - Present)
  • Member, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) (2015 - Present)
  • Member, American Medical Association (AMA) (2012 - Present)
  • Member, American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) (2012 - 2020)

Professional Education

  • Medical Education: Boston University School of Medicine (2012) MA
  • Board Certification: American Board of Family Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Medicine (2016)
  • Fellowship: University of California, Los Angeles CA
  • Board Certification: American Board of Family Medicine, Family Medicine (2015)
  • Chief Resident, University of California San Diego, Family Medicine
  • Residency: University of California San Diego (2015) CA

Clinical Trials

  • Perioperative Palliative Care Surrounding Cancer Surgery for Patients & Their Family Members Not Recruiting

    The study goal is to compare surgeon-palliative care team co-management, versus surgeon alone management, of patients and family members preparing for major upper gastrointestinal cancer surgery. The study also aims to explore, using qualitative methods, the impact of surgeon-palliative care team co-management versus surgeon alone management on the perioperative care experience for patients, family members, surgeons, and palliative care clinicians.

    Stanford is currently not accepting patients for this trial. For more information, please contact Rachel Siden, 650-724-6066.

    View full details

All Publications

  • Education About Specialty Palliative Care Among Non-Healthcare Workers: A Systematic Review. Journal of pain and symptom management Smith, G. M., Singh, N., Hui, F., Sossenheimer, P. H., Hannah, J. M., Romano, P., Wong, H. C., Heidari, S. N., Harman, S. M. 2023


    Despite the expansion of palliative care (PC) services, the public has little knowledge and holds misperceptions about PC, creating barriers to accessing timely specialty PC.To systematically review the evidence regarding the efficacy of educational interventions to improve knowledge and attitudes about PC among non-healthcare workers.We searched five databases (PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, CIANHL, Web of Science, and Scopus) for studies investigating educational interventions about specialty PC in adults who identified as patients, caregivers, or members of the public. We included studies that were available in English and had a comparator group. We excluded studies that only sampled health professionals or children. We used the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool to assess quality and risk of bias.Of 12,420 records identified, we screened 5,948 abstracts and assessed 526 full texts for eligibility. 21 articles were extracted for analysis, representing 20 unique educational interventions. Common methodologies included quasi-experimental (9, 45%), randomized controlled trial (4, 20%), and non-randomized trial (2, 10%). Common components of the educational interventions included video presentations (9, 45%), written materials (8, 40%), and lectures (4, 20%). Content included definition (14, 70%) and philosophy (14, 70%) of PC, distinctions between PC and hospice (11, 55%), and eligibility for PC (11, 55%). Fourteen (70%) interventions showed statistically significant positive differences in either knowledge or attitudes about PC.While educational interventions can positively impact knowledge and attitudes about PC among non-healthcare workers, more research is needed to inform the design, delivery, and evaluation of interventions to increase knowledge and attitudes about PC.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2023.09.023

    View details for PubMedID 37797678

  • "The More I Know ... the More I Like It": A Systematic Review Evaluating Public- and Patient-Facing Educational Interventions About Palliative Care Singh, N., Smith, G. M., Sossenheimer, P. H., Heidari, S. N., Hui, F., Hannah, J., Romano, P., Wong, C. ELSEVIER SCIENCE INC. 2023: E579
  • Effect of Perioperative Palliative Care on Health-Related Quality of Life Among Patients Undergoing Surgery for Cancer: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA network open Aslakson, R. A., Rickerson, E., Fahy, B., Waterman, B., Siden, R., Colborn, K., Smith, S., Verano, M., Lira, I., Hollahan, C., Siddiqi, A., Johnson, K., Chandrashekaran, S., Harris, E., Nudotor, R., Baker, J., Heidari, S. N., Poultsides, G., Conca-Cheng, A. M., Cook Chapman, A., Lessios, A. S., Holdsworth, L. M., Gustin, J., Ejaz, A., Pawlik, T., Miller, J., Morris, A. M., Tulsky, J. A., Lorenz, K., Temel, J. S., Smith, T. J., Johnston, F. 2023; 6 (5): e2314660


    Involvement of palliative care specialists in the care of medical oncology patients has been repeatedly observed to improve patient-reported outcomes, but there is no analogous research in surgical oncology populations.To determine whether surgeon-palliative care team comanagement, compared with surgeon team alone management, improves patient-reported perioperative outcomes among patients pursuing curative-intent surgery for high morbidity and mortality upper gastrointestinal (GI) cancers.From October 20, 2018, to March 31, 2022, a patient-randomized clinical trial was conducted with patients and clinicians nonblinded but the analysis team blinded to allocation. The trial was conducted in 5 geographically diverse academic medical centers in the US. Individuals pursuing curative-intent surgery for an upper GI cancer who had received no previous specialist palliative care were eligible. Surgeons were encouraged to offer participation to all eligible patients.Surgeon-palliative care comanagement patients met with palliative care either in person or via telephone before surgery, 1 week after surgery, and 1, 2, and 3 months after surgery. For patients in the surgeon-alone group, surgeons were encouraged to follow National Comprehensive Cancer Network-recommended triggers for palliative care consultation.The primary outcome of the trial was patient-reported health-related quality of life at 3 months following the operation. Secondary outcomes were patient-reported mental and physical distress. Intention-to-treat analysis was performed.In total, 359 patients (175 [48.7%] men; mean [SD] age, 64.6 [10.7] years) were randomized to surgeon-alone (n = 177) or surgeon-palliative care comanagement (n = 182), with most patients (206 [57.4%]) undergoing pancreatic cancer surgery. No adverse events were associated with the intervention, and 11% of patients in the surgeon-alone and 90% in the surgeon-palliative care comanagement groups received palliative care consultation. There was no significant difference between study arms in outcomes at 3 months following the operation in patient-reported health-related quality of life (mean [SD], 138.54 [28.28] vs 136.90 [28.96]; P = .62), mental health (mean [SD], -0.07 [0.87] vs -0.07 [0.84]; P = .98), or overall number of deaths (6 [3.7%] vs 7 [4.1%]; P > .99).To date, this is the first multisite randomized clinical trial to evaluate perioperative palliative care and the earliest integration of palliative care into cancer care. Unlike in medical oncology practice, the data from this trial do not suggest palliative care-associated improvements in patient-reported outcomes among patients pursuing curative-intent surgeries for upper GI Identifier: NCT03611309.

    View details for DOI 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.14660

    View details for PubMedID 37256623

  • Finding a New Mantra. The New England journal of medicine Heidari, S. N. 2022

    View details for DOI 10.1056/NEJMp2206851

    View details for PubMedID 36094841

  • Touch, and the absence of it. The Lancet. Respiratory medicine Heidari, S. N. 2021

    View details for DOI 10.1016/S2213-2600(21)00028-X

    View details for PubMedID 33493445