How do I get Palliative Care Training?

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  • Written By: Cathy Crenshaw Doheny
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2018
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Palliative care is a medical specialty focused on giving the patient the best possible quality of life, despite chronic or terminal illness. This is achieved through techniques intended to reduce pain, relieve stress, and minimize other debilitating symptoms brought on by the illness. Special attention is also given to easing the social, psychological, and spiritual problems associated with the disease. In the United States, medical professionals who wish to get palliative care training can do so by completing a one to two year fellowship program, following completion of a primary residency. In the United Kingdom, palliative care training is governed by regulations issued through the Royal College of Physicians, as it is considered to be an independent medical specialty.

The concept of palliative care applies to both hospice and non-hospice care situations. The aim of care is to improve quality of life and alleviate symptoms, regardless of whether or not there is hope for a cure of the underlying condition. Palliative care can even be used to help relieve side effects from treatment regimens, such as chemotherapy. Pediatric palliative care is also a growing field used to help children manage serious illness.


Beyond the formal fellowship programs offering palliative care training to medical professionals, some healthcare organizations may also offer seminars to other people who are part of a patient's palliative care team. Such people can include social workers, nurses, clergy, counselors, caregivers, pharmacists, massage therapists, hospital administrators, and dietitians. Palliative care training topics may include symptom control, psychological and spiritual support, rehabilitation, complimentary therapies, and end of life care.

One of the goals of palliative care training include encouraging an attitude that affirms life, and regards dying as a natural progression and normal process. Other main goals are to learn to help provide relief from pain and other disturbing symptoms, as well as to incorporate spiritual and psychological aspects into patient care. Most palliative care training programs also aim to help the patient's family cope with the ramifications of the patient's illness and their own bereavement.

During palliative care training, participants may learn how to help a patient find relief from common symptoms, such as fatigue, constipation, shortness of breath, nausea, and loss of appetite. They may also learn how to educate patients on how to manage their condition and make informed treatment choices. Palliative care training may also enable practitioners to be comfortable with discussing sensitive end-of-life issues with patients, including when to withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatments and personal death awareness.



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