BJ Miller, M.D.
Co-Founder and CEO, Mettle Health | Author, "A Beginner's Guide to the End"
Patient-Centered Care
Physicians & Other Providers
Wellness & Mental Health
The Patient Perspective
Dr. BJ Miller is one of the pre-eminent speakers on patient-centered care, palliative and end-of-life care. Drawing on his expertise as a physician, former Executive Director of Zen Hospice Project, and as a patient, he is an advocate for a healthcare system that maximizes quality of life and that minimizes unnecessary suffering.

Dr. Miller is the CEO of Mettle Health, a company he co-founded with the aim to provide personalized, holistic consultations for any patient or caregiver who needs help navigating the many practical, emotional and communication issues that come with serious or chronic illness, end of life and disability. He is the Dream Foundation Honorary Medical Chair, the only national dream-granting organization for terminally-ill adults.

His TED Talk, “What Really Matters at the End of Life,” about keeping the patient at the center of care and encouraging empathic end-of-life care, and has garnered over 15 million views to date and ranked among the most viewed talks.

His first book, The Beginner's Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death, comprehensive, and compassionate guide to dying — and living fully until you do. There are plenty of self-help books for mourners, but nothing in the way of a modern, approachable and above all useful field guide for the living. Written from the perspective of the insider in the medical system and as a fellow patient himself Dr. Miller offers an honest, compassionate, and detailed-oriented survey that provides guidance on all related experiences that come up when one is dying, and will bring optimism to empower readers with the knowledge, resources and tools that all of us will inevitably need.

BJ was Executive Director of Zen Hospice Project from 2011-2016 where he helped develop and share a pioneering model of human-centered end of life care. Raised in Chicago, BJ studied art history as an undergraduate at Princeton University. After several years working in both the art and disability-rights non-profit communities he enrolled at UCSF where he completed his MD as a Regents' Scholar in 2001. He completed his internal medicine residency at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, California, where he served as chief resident. He completed his fellowship in Hospice & Palliative Medicine at Harvard Medical School, with his clinical duties split between Massachusetts General Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Among the various awards received, BJ won the William Osler Distinguished Teaching Award as well as the AAHPM/Project on Death in America Palliative Medicine Community Leadership Award.
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The pandemic has stretched many industries beyond their capacity. Three years in, Americans are resigning in droves or resorting to substance abuse or other maladaptive responses. Mounting stressors are pulling the covers on our incomplete or inadequate coping habits; it’s as though we aren’t allowed to have complex emotions. Reductive American notions of toughness mean people are discouraged from being honest with themselves and each other and are made to feel ashamed when what everyone really needs is compassion. Markers of mental health and social isolation are proving this point. Prior notions of self care, e.g. spa days, are proving grossly inadequate and possibly besides the point. Resiliency on the other hand, is a more deeply-seated state of being, no matter who you are or what sector you work in. Importantly, resiliency is dynamic in nature, not divisive, and it is incumbent on employers and employees alike to chart a course to well-being together.
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End of Life Care
How do we frame the subject of mortality so that it becomes something we dare to see? As something that binds us together? As a normal part of a healthy life? The hope is to be less paralyzed by the fact that we all die, and more inspired to appreciate what we have while we still have it. That is, to live until we actually die. It starts with all of us - including those charged with operating the healthcare system - leading with our humanity instead of our station or profession. And it pays to realize that the things that matter most at the end of life tend to be non-medical. This fact should empower people - patients and families - to take charge of their situation; it should also help to offload clinicians and the healthcare system as a whole. People have been dying for a very long time, but only recently have we outsourced death and dying to an industrialized healthcare complex, where death has become more complicated and daunting than it needs to be. The new way forward is for patients and providers to enter into a partnership with each-other, where each takes responsibility for their part in the process. With a little bit of effort, we can reclaim the humanity of the subject and uptick the importance of joy and meaning and connection. We should all share in the burden and privilege of caring for one another through life's most vulnerable and poignant moments.
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Speaking to financial & insurance audiences
The end of life is an ecosystem: personal, familial, clinical and financial. In fact, many surveys find that not wanting to be a financial burden at the end of life is one of the most important issues for patients. Understanding the world of the patient puts you in a better position to anticipate the needs of clients and how best to serve them. For anyone doing the work of helping people prepare and plan for the final stages of life, no matter what stage the client is at, empathy should be at the core of that effort. And yet, it is very difficult to put yourself in the shoes of someone who is facing the end of their life. How can we help people in the prime of their life, plan for something they can’t imagine?
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Death as Part of Life | Arts & Ideas at the JCCSF
BJ Miller, M.D.
2015 Spotlight Health Opening and Welcome | Aspen Ideas Festival
BJ Miller, M.D.
In facing death, this doctor sees a way to live well | PBS Newshour
BJ Miller, M.D.
End Game | Official Trailer | Netflix
BJ Miller, M.D.
What really matters at the end of life | TED
BJ Miller, M.D.
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