Health Service Categories and Careers


Palliative Medicine is medicine and care provided to those patients who have a terminal or advanced disease, with a limited prognosis, and who are ultimately preparing for their end of life. Its primary aim is to reduce pain and discomfort and ensure optimal quality of life. It includes treatment and management of pain, referrals to respite care, counselling for the patient and their family, spiritual guidance, and links and resources for home aid and financial assistance/planning. The Palliative care team is integrated and diverse, involving medical and nursing specialists, support staff, and other Allied Health and community health services. With an aging population and growing prevalence of chronic diseases, palliative care is an important area of health care that will need to meet future demand. Palliative Medicine and care look at the physical, psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual needs of the patient and their family. It seeks to normalise their experience, build relationships based on empathy and trust, reduce suffering and provide comfort.

Palliative Medicine and Palliative Care Jobs

Palliative Medicine Physicians care for patients with active, progressive, and advanced disease, who are approaching the end of their life. They focus on quality of life by providing comprehensive support and management of symptoms, and by coordinating other non-medical services to improve the psychosocial care of the patient and their family. Palliative Medicine Physicians have broad clinical experience in palliative medicine, cancer medicine and general medicine. They can apply pathophysiology and clinical pharmacology to diagnose and manage major symptoms, while committing to the principles of comprehensive palliative care and their role in coordinating other professional staff to provide wrap-around support to the patient and their family. The role of the Palliative Medicine Physician is that of clinical decision-maker and expert, who manages patients in the hospital, hospice and in the home. They provide clinical care that is structured around the needs and priorities of the patient and their family. These physicians coordinate important services, such as social and spiritual support, and train junior specialists. To become a Palliative Medicine Physician, registered doctors need to complete 3-years of RACP Basic Training, and then apply for the Advanced Training in Palliative Medicine, which involves 36 months (3 years) of full-time training. Once complete, doctors can apply for Fellowship with the RACP and Specialist Registration with the Australian Medical Board (AHPRA).

Registrars (Internal Medicine – Palliative Medicine) are registered doctors who have completed their medical degree and pre-vocational training (internship and residency/PGY2-3). They have attained general registration with AHPRA and can now undertake specialist/or vocational training positions to broaden and refine their scope of practice and gain experience, skills and competency in their chosen area of medicine. Registrars are very important members of the integrated and multi-disciplinary health care team. They have increasing responsibility for patient care, oversee and support junior doctors and staff, participate in professional development activities and continue to receive important guidance, training, and support from senior staff. They work in a range of primary, secondary, tertiary, clinical, laboratory and acute care settings, in hospitals, private practices and community clinics. Registered doctors at this level can further their career as Hospital Doctors or Career Medical Officers or pursue a medical specialty with further training and specialist registration. Registrars who want to pursue a career in Palliative Medicine can undertake advanced training with RACP. They work under Palliative Medicine Physicians/specialist consultants and develop procedural skills, clinical expertise, and valuable work experience.

Nurses (Palliative Care) work with patients who have a life-limiting illness, and their families and caregivers. They work in multi-disciplinary palliative care teams of doctors, nurses, pastoral and social workers, chaplains, counsellors, dietitians, pharmacists and physiotherapists. They provide symptom management and pain relief. They make assessments, follow care plans, fill out documentation and provide other palliative nursing care and services. Nursing roles in palliative care are available in a range of hospital, residential and community settings. Registered Nurses can also pursue postgraduate training In Palliative Care.