Sophomore Seminars

Aging, Dying, and End-of-Life Care


This is a Community-Engaged Virtual Healthcare Course for undergraduate students. This course is designed to prepare students to critically examine values, attitudes, and contexts that govern perspectives toward and engagement of patients within the context of aging and end of life. The course prepares students to responsibly and reflectively interact with aging and seriously ill patients in a mentored setting as follows:

  • (a) Students will learn about the history, evolution, principles and practice of geriatrics and palliative care in class through didactics and lectures by guest lecturers.
  • (b) Through mentored fieldwork, students will learn the basic competencies of communicating with older adults from diverse backgrounds in a respectful and compassionate manner. Students will be exposed to the challenges faced by patients from diverse backgrounds and their caregivers. Each student will be assigned a small panel of patients. Due to COVID, all patient and family interaction will be virtual. Students will work with an inter-disciplinary team, conduct virtual calls on patients in their panel, and write progress notes, which will become a part of the patients' electronic medical records.
  • (c) Weekly assignments will help students reflect on their interactions with the patients and lessons they learned.
  • (d) All students will complete a mentored capstone project (either individually or in small groups as they choose) and present this project at the end of the quarter.

Our goal is to train future leaders in healthcare and especially in the space of aging and end-of-life care. 

Please note: This IntroSem is a Cardinal Course. Students who enroll in MED 51Q will be working virtually with patients. As a prerequisite for patient-care, all students (a) must complete HIPAA training, patient safety training, and a background check. All tests required will be provided free of cost and have to be completed with specific agencies affiliated with Stanford. Failure to complete paperwork will result in student being dropped from the class. Dr. Periyakoil will send more specific directions after students are enrolled in MED 51Q.

Meet the Instructor(s)

VJ Periyakoil, Geriatrics, Hospice & Palliative Medicine

Dr. VJ Periyakoil is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Research. She is the founding director of the Stanford Palliative Care Education & Training Program, and the Stanford Aging, Geriatrics and Ethnogeriatrics (SAGE) transdisciplinary collaborative center. Her research promotes healthy aging using emerging methodologies in diverse populations.