Get to Know Me
Dr. Elissa Miller is division chief of palliative medicine. She’s also clinical assistant professor of pediatrics, Thomas Jefferson University; fellow, American Academy of Pediatrics; member, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine; and an invited lecturer and author of medical journal articles.
Why I Treat Children
I always knew I wanted to be a doctor who works with children. When I was young, I had some family members who were sick. When the doctors talked to us about it, they always asked me if I had any questions even though I was a child. That made quite an impression on me, and I ended up wanting to give back — and to make sure that I communicated directly with all of my patients' family members, including children.During my medical training, I was drawn to physicians who really talked with patients and their families. It turns out they were all in palliative care. I learned it was a great field if I enjoyed taking the time to discuss the families' needs and goals.Kids are awesome. Even when they are sick, they smile. They're so resilient and have so much life in them, and just want to go back to being kids. I do all I can to help them have the best quality of life possible, and to improve their pain and symptom management.I like connecting with children and their families. I feel it's my job to help them get through what is often the most difficult time in their lives.
What I'm Passionate About
I'm passionate about trust. For me the most important thing is establishing a mutually trusting relationship with each patient and family. I trust them, and they trust me to manage all the parts of their care. This same level of trust has to exist with all the members of my team to truly make a difference.I help dispel fears that families may have about palliative care and to educate them about what we do and what palliative care is. Since it's kind of a new field, I often have to introduce them to the very idea of palliative care, or dispel myths and misconceptions about it.I'm pretty passionate about my field. It's a relatively new, exciting area of medicine. In fact, the oldest pediatric palliative care program in the country is only 15 years old, so my colleagues and I are really in on the ground floor and helping establish the standards. I also like that there's a lot of science — and a lot of actual medical practice — in palliative care.
Make A Difference
I treat every patient and family individually, because every patient and family is unique. We tailor the care we deliver to the needs of each child. I firmly believe that one size does not fit all.As palliative care physicians, we work side-by-side with social workers, nurses and pastoral caregivers — so much so, in fact, we often take on some of the others' roles. This provides richer, interdisciplinary care to each of our patients, especially when one member of the team can't be present — such as at a home visit for our sickest patients. These home visits are another way our palliative care team is different from many other specialties and makes a difference for our patients. We’re able to go to our patients who are too sick to come to the hospital, or for whom it would cause more harm than good to come in. It’s all about quality of life.I also educate clinicians in other disciplines and young physicians studying palliative care. As director of the palliative care fellowship program, I help them to become the best that they can be. Their presence adds value to our team as well — having physicians to instruct keeps us constantly improving.
Education & Training
Hospice and Palliative Care
- The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia,
- The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia,
- University of Rochester,
- American Board of Pediatrics/Hospice & Palliative Medicine
- American Board of Pediatrics/General Pediatrics
Awards & Recognition
Delaware Today magazine, Top Doctors
Faculty Educator of the Month, Nemours/AIDHC Pediatric Residency
Top 40 Under 40, Philadelphia Business Journal
Fellow, American Academy of Pediatrics
Resident Clinician of the Year, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Bryce Collier Prize for Compassion in Medicine, University of Rochester
Gold Humanism Honor Society, University of Rochester
Alpha Omega Alpha, University of Rochester
Fellowship in Medical Humanities, University of Rochester
International Health Award, University of Rochester