Palliative Medicine is the study and management of patients with active progressive far advanced disease where the prognosis is limited and the central focus is quality of life. The support of carers/families is also a major focus. Dying is seen as an expected normal event in the care of patients and care and support is extended to carers and families during the bereavement phase if required.
Palliative Medicine is a sub-specialty within Adult Medicine of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Specialists in Palliative Medicine are required to hold the Fellowship in the Australasian Chapter of Palliative Medicine (FAChPM) or Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (FRACP).
Potential career opportunities
There are two ways of possible streams of training in Palliative Medicine.
- FRACP training and doing advanced training in Palliative Medicine.
- After obtaining fellowship in another approved specialty e.g. general practice, oncology, psychiatry, anaesthetics etc, a candidate can undertake lateral entry into a three year training program in both inpatient and community palliative medicine and be granted FAChPM after completing a number of research projects in the specialty.
Palliative Medicine is practised in acute teaching hospitals, hospices and in the community.
Throughout Australasia there is a significant shortage of palliative medicine physicians.
Primary Research Possibilities
There are multiple opportunities for both quantitative and qualitative research interests, major teaching opportunities for undergraduates and postgraduates, and stimulating clinical opportunities in the areas of pain and symptom management, family/caregiver support and psycho spiritual distress.
Research and Teaching Staff
There are three staff specialists all of whom are involved in various research projects. Dr Phillip Good co-ordinates most of the ongoing research undertaken by members of the multidisciplinary team. Dr John Cavenagh is interested in audit programs and qualitative research. Professor Peter Ravenscroft is the Area Director and oversees the unit’s research program.
Undergraduate and Postgraduate Programs relevant to the Discipline
Palliative Medicine in taught in the undergraduate joint medical program in Years 1, 3 and 5. In Year 1, there is a focus on normal bereavement and a symposium on palliative care which looks at broad issues in the specialty. In Year 3, students are attached to a family caring for one of its members with a terminal illness in an endeavour to understand the community environment, family coping skills, how a patient manages in the everyday living with a terminal illness. In Year 5, there is an intensive one week course in preparing future junior medical officers (JMOs) in managing distressed families, pain and symptom issues and psycho spiritual issues.
Postgraduates have the opportunity to do JMO terms in a hospice unit, registrar rotations, advanced training positions and VMO positions in the Department of Palliative Care at Calvary Mater Newcastle.