When Proto magazine launched in 2005, the idea of palliative care—building more comfort into the care of those with serious illnesses—was just gaining ground. Indeed, many clinicians viewed it suspiciously, believing that the premature use of palliative care might shorten life expectancy by prompting patients to forgo life-prolonging treatments.

Since then, palliative care has become a board-certified specialty, and many hospitals now have developed robust programs. In this video, Vicki Jackson, chief of the palliative care division at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Jennifer Temel, clinical director of thoracic oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital, discuss the tremendous growth in the research and practice over the past decade.

“My job is to help patients with serious illness live as well as they can for as long as they can,” says Jackson. “That means helping them with physical symptoms, emotional symptoms, and helping them make decisions that are congruent with their goals and values.”