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Maxwell T Vergo, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine

Additional Titles/Positions/Affiliations:
Program Director, Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship
Director of Education, Section of Palliative Care
Co-Director, DHMC Serious Illness Care Program
Faculty, VitalTalk
Architect, Serious Illness Implementation Collaborative
Fellow, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Member, Academic Palliative Medicine Council
Bioethics Committee Member
Graduate Medical Education Committee Member
Associate Editor, BMC Palliative Care


Tufts University, BS, 1996-2000
Tufts University School of Medicine, MD, 2000-2004
Massachusetts General Hospital Internal Medicine Residency, 2004-2007
Harvard Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship, 2007-2008
Northwestern University Medical Oncology Fellowship, 2008-2010

WBUR Opinion Piece:

The Hill - Op Ed (co-author)

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospice and Palliative Medicine Interdisciplinary Fellowship:

Contact Information:

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
Section of Palliative Care
1 Medical Center Drive
Lebanon NH 03756

Office: 603-650-5402

Professional Interests:

Education Theory and Research
Primary Palliative Care Communication Training
Simulated Communication Training
Impact of Legacy and Creative Writing on End of Life Experience
System Implementation and Quality Improvement of Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatments

Grant Information:

1. Feasibility and Utilization of the Serious Illness Conversation - ICU Version in a Critical Care Setting with Fellows and Faculty Training.

2. The Effect of a Longitudinal Communication Skills Training on the Attitudes and Practices of Hematology-
Oncology Fellows and Faculty; funded by Department of Medicine Advisory Committee for Education grant.

3. A Pilot of Serious Illness Conversation Training with Internal Medicine Residents and Faculty Dyads; funded by Department of Medicine Advisory Committee for Education grant.

4. Feasibility of a Creative Writing Intervention in an Advanced Cancer Population: A single arm, consecutive cohort study (D15113); funded through the Norris Cotton Cancer Center


Max completed medical school at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston MA, internal medicine training at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston MA, hospice and palliative medicine fellowship training at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston MA, and finally medical oncology training at Northwestern University in Chicago IL. He is currently the Director of Education for the Section of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Program Director for the hospice and palliative medicine fellowship at DH. His focus is on communication training at all levels of medical education to improve the conversations and goal-aligned care provided to patients living with serious illnesses. His research interest includes understanding the psychological impact of legacy interventions in patients with serious illness as well as the potential impact on end-of-life medical decision making and health care utilization.

Mentoring Information:

Rodis Fellowship for Compassionate-Centered Care, Geisel School of Medicine

Selected Publications:


  • Vergo MT, Cullinan AM, Wilson M. The Paradigm of Escalation of Commitment in Treatment Decisions Near the End of Life. JAMA Oncology (view details in PubMed)

  • Vergo MT, Sachs S, MacMartin MA, Kirkland KB, Cullinan AM, Stephens LA. Acceptability and Impact of a Required Palliative Care Rotation with Prerotation and Postrotation Observed Simulated Clinical Experience during Internal Medicine Residency Training on Primary Palliative Communication Skills. Journal of Palliative Medicine (view details in PubMed)

  • Vergo MT, Whyman J, Li Z, Kestel J, James SL, Rector C, Salsman JM. Assessing Preparatory Grief in Advanced Cancer Patients as an Independent Predictor of Distress in an American Population. Journal of Palliative Medicine (view details in PubMed)

  • Ekstrom M, Vergo MT, Ahmadi Z, Currow DC. Prevalence of Sudden Death in Palliative Care: Data From the Australian Palliative Care Outcomes Collaborative. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management (view details in PubMed)

  • Currow DC, Vergo MT, Ekstrom M. Sudden Death in Palliative Care. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management (view details in PubMed)

  • Reddy SM, Vergo MT, Paice JA, Kwon N, Helenowski IB, et al. Quantitative Sensory Testing at Baseline and During Cycle 1 Oxaliplatin Infusion Detects Subclinical Peripheral Neuropathy and Predicts Clinically Overt Chronic Neuropathy in Gastrointestinal Malignancies. Clinical Colorectal Cancer (view details in PubMed)

  • Vergo MT, Nimeiri H, Mulcahy M, Benson A, Emmanuel L. A feasibility study of dignity therapy in patients with stage IV colorectal cancer actively receiving second-line chemotherapy. The Journal of Community and Supportive Oncology (view details in PubMed)

  • Vergo MT, Cullinan AM. Joining together to improve outcomes: integrating specialty palliative care into the care of patients with cancer. Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (view details in PubMed)