Robert K. Horowitz, M.D., has been named Chief of the Division of Palliative Care and the Georgia and Thomas Gosnell Distinguished Professor in Palliative Care at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Drawn to the specialty mid-career after years of work in human services, emergency medicine and with cystic fibrosis patients, Horowitz joined URMC’s Palliative Care Program in 2010 and has served as its clinical director, acting chief and interim chief leading up to his current appointment.
“I am extremely excited that Rob has been chosen to lead the Palliative Care Program through its next phase of growth and development,” said Timothy Quill, M.D., former Division Chief and renowned palliative care expert. “His wide-ranging experience in medicine, pediatrics and medical education as well as his role leading the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Program over many years make him uniquely qualified to take on this role.”
A Rochester native, Horowitz worked in a variety of human service agencies prior to earning his medical degree at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He pursued residency in URMC’s Medicine and Pediatrics program followed by 18 years as an emergency medicine physician. During that time he helped establish the Medical Center's Adult Cystic Fibrosis Program and served as its medical director for 16 years.
“I discovered that my deepest strengths and satisfactions reside in tending to patients with serious and progressive illness, in which the best care involves not just technical excellence, but also being a listening and compassionate presence,” reflected Horowitz. “I think this is the essence of the Palliative Care specialty.”
“We are very pleased to have Dr. Horowitz take over the leadership of the Palliative Care Division,” said Paul C. Levy, M.D., Charles A. Dewey Professor of Medicine and Chairman of the Department of Medicine. “I look forward to working closely with him as he implements his strategic vision. I am particularly excited about his plans to extend the reach of the Division and improve access to palliative care services in rural areas.”
In addition to clinical and administrative responsibilities, Horowitz teaches and speaks throughout the Medical Center, the community, and regionally and nationally to professionals, health care trainees, and community groups about managing difficult conversations, pain and other complicated symptom management, advance care planning and clinician self-care. He is a valued educator and respected mentor and directs the medical school’s Comprehensive Assessments of communication skills, medical knowledge and professionalism. He also facilitates several support and reflection groups for clinicians, staff and trainees. In addition, he is the volunteer medical director of Isaiah House, a hospice home in downtown Rochester, which cares for underserved community members.
Board-certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Horowitz has earned the 2016 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, and numerous honors for teaching.
“I am humbled and excited by the opportunity to serve my community as leader of this incredible program,” Horowitz said. “Given the compelling evidence that palliative care improves patient and family well-being and satisfaction, it’s clear that creative and innovative extension of palliative care competencies to the growing population of seriously ill patients is among the surest ways to achieve the Triple Aim of improved patient outcomes, patient experience, and value of care.”
Horowitz and his wife, Rhea Zweifler, live in Rochester and have three adult sons.