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Palliative Care Doctor

Palliative care doctors specialize in treating chronic pain and illnesses. They assist patients struggling with chronic pain regain function and manage constant pain. Hospice and palliative care differ significantly. People receiving hospice care are typically terminally ill, while those receiving palliative care are not close to dying, rather struggling with constant pain.

In addition to assisting patients with pain management, palliative care doctors meet with patients' care providers and family members. They also teach patients how to utilize public and private services. Additionally, they consult with other specialists, including nutritionists, pharmacists, massage and physical therapists, social workers, nurses, and other physicians working closely with patients.

Increased public awareness about chronic pain has caused more hospitals and medical clinics to hire palliative care doctors. More emphasis is being placed on palliative care since people diagnosed with chronic pain are often addicted to pain medication.

Working Conditions
Palliative care specialists diagnose and treat children, adults, and elderly patients. They're employed at hospice and assisted living centers, hospitals, outpatient clinics, veteran's hospitals, and medical clinics. Many palliative care doctors assist patients in their homes.

In addition to patient care, palliative care physicians supervise employees, train other medical specialists, and organize public campaigns to increase awareness about chronic pain and available services.

Career Training and Education
Palliative care physicians must first complete medical school and a residency before obtaining specialized training. The American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS) now offers board certification in this field. To become certified in palliative medicine, you must either:
  • Complete a yearlong fellowship in palliative medicine recognized by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
  • Complete 800 clinical hours in palliative or hospice medicine and administer palliative treatments with other specialists to patients struggling with chronic pain. This option expires in 2012.
Since palliative care physicians treat patients struggling with chronic pain and illness, they must be empathetic, effective communicators, and have the ability to adapt to change.
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