Palliative Medicine is a rewarding career that allows you to support patients and families at vulnerable times. There are opportunities for complex problem solving, challenging communication and fascinating ethical dilemmas. Good palliative care requires multi-professional teams and interactions with a wide variety of hospital and community colleagues. Palliative Medicine specialist training happens in hospitals, hospices and in the community.
If training full-time in a numbered post, it takes four years to gain a certificate of completion (CCT) in palliative medicine. Since 2022 Palliative Medicine is dual accredited with General Internal Medicine meaning that one year out of the four years of specialist training will be spent in acute medicine.
The RCP census shows that Palliative Medicine is the 11th largest medical specialty with around 700 consultants in the UK. Trainee numbers in palliative medicine are increasing. Around 48% of consultants work less than fulltime, and a similar number of trainees choose to train flexibly. About a third of consultant jobs are joint NHS/third sector which reflects the fact that there are options to work across settings and organisations. Specialty trainees rate their training highly in the GMC trainees’ annual survey.
The transformation of the NHS following the COVID-19 pandemic will require increased specialty training numbers. Increased numbers of medical student placements have already been announced. This will allow an expansion of the palliative medicine workforce with roles required in all settings.
The Palliative Medicine workforce in years to come will include physician associates, paramedics, Allied Health care Professionals and nurses of different grades, including more nurse consultants, advanced nurse practitioners and a growing number of pharmacists with specialist palliative care knowledge. The APM is encouraging the diversification of its membership to reflect this trend.
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