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Several pictures of doctors who are featured on the Local Legends web site

MEET LOCAL LEGEND: Gillian Hamilton, M.D.

Picture of Gillian Hamilton
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Gillian Hamilton, M.D.

“I try to honor my patients and listen to them. I want them to feel that they have control, that they have help, and that they can have meaning in their lives at this most difficult time. The most important thing about the end of life is to make each moment the best possible.”


John Shadegg



When Gillian Hamilton was a young assistant professor of psychology at Hunter College, City University of New York, she often spent her free time volunteering to help the elderly who lived alone. "I'd find six people who hadn't had a visitor that week and we'd all go out to an ice cream parlor. For me, it was just something I liked to do," she reminisces.

The ideas of service and volunteerism inspired Hamilton to pursue a medical degree and to dedicate her life to geriatrics and hospice care and, through quality care, help those near the end of life find comfort and peace.

As Administrative Medical Director for Phoenix's Hospice of the Valley, which she joined in 1996, Hamilton oversees patient care and directs programs for people suffering from life-ending and chronic illnesses, and severe dementia.

"I love helping people and being part of the team we have at Hospice of the Valley," she comments. Her teammates include other doctors, nurses, social workers, pastoral counselors and volunteers. As Arizona's largest hospice (and the second largest in the United States), Hospice of the Valley serves more than 10,000 patients each year.

"Hospice care is so important; I feel privileged to be part of it," Hamilton states. "It's the only area of medicine where you can take care of the whole patient, their body, mind, and spirit, and also help their families. As a Buddhist, I believe that death is a very important part of life, and an important passage to go through with dignity. Still, no one likes to see someone die; it's especially hard with someone young."

Nominated as a Local Legend by Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ-3), she received the 1999 Geriatrician of the Year award from the Arizona Geriatrics Society, and the Arizona Alzheimer's Association Education Volunteer of the Year award, in 2002. Phoenix Magazine cited her as Best Geriatrician (1996-2005), and Best Doctors in America has listed her on multiple occasions. In 2002 she received the Caring Spirit Award for Individual Achievement.

Hamilton did her medical residency at the Arizona Health Sciences Center, in Tucson, and completed her fellowship in Geriatric Medicine at the Long Island Jewish Hospital, in New York. Before beginning her medical career, she earned a Ph.D. in Physiological and Clinical Psychology from the University of Florida.

Besides serving as the Administrative Medical Director for Hospice of the Valley, she is Medical Director for both the MediCaring Project and the "Providing Palliative Care to Persons with Dementia" project, and Co-Director for Health Care Decisions and Clinical Assistant Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

Says an admiring colleague, "Gillian Hamilton is a remarkable physician; she is a major contributor and driving force for improving care at the end of life, and has made a tremendous impact in her community and throughout the country."



Serves as Associate Medical Director and Director of Psychiatric Services, Long Term Care, Maricopa County Health Services


Founder and Program Director, COMMUNITY (an intergenerational friendship program between young people and nursing home residents)


Director of Geriatrics, Family Practice Department, Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, Banner Health System, Tucson


Physician Coordinator, ALTCS/AHCCCS Eligibility Review


Medical Director, Hospice of the Valley (non-profit; one of the largest hospices in the United States), Phoenix


Co-Director, End of Life Decisions Videotape Project


Serves as Medical Director for the "Providing Palliative Care to Persons with Dementia" Project


Co-Director, Health Care Decisions, Hospice of the Valley



University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson


Internal Medicine

Sub Specialty

Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine