Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board recruitment to core medical training 2011

Palliative medicine

This page contains information on the specialty of palliative medicine, one of the ST3 specialties participating in JRCPTB-coordinated ST3 recruitment.

The specialty

If delivering high-quality, patient-centred care is up your street, then palliative medicine could be the specialty for you.

Its rewards are endless, which shouldn't be surprising given that its hallmark is holistic care of the highest possible standard.

Palliative medicine - trainee characteristics

Those entering the specialty should:

  • be skilled communicators, with the desire to improve yet further
  • bring enthusiasm and dynamism to multidisciplinary team-working
  • have an interest in ethical issues and a commitment to finding the best way forward when challenges arise
  • enjoy complex decision-making, often as part of a team, and always in conjunction with patients and families.

Working/training in an ST3 palliative medicine post

Unique training

Palliative medicine specialist training is like no other. You will learn to care for patients with a great range of illnesses, of all ages and in all settings.

Contrary to misconceptions, it is about far more than dying; rather it is about enabling patients and families to make the most of living.

You will strive to provide optimum symptom control, psychological support and practical assistance to those with both malignant and non-malignant life-limiting conditions.

Your training will take you into patients' own homes, to A&E departments, hospices, oncology and renal units, and more.

This breadth of experience is key; as a consultant you may work as part of a hospital, hospice or community palliative care team, or often a combination.

Specialty evolution

Palliative medicine's evidence base is evolving at a great rate, although it will never be a protocol-driven specialty.

It requires you to think on your feet, and to use empathy and pragmatism, as well as science, to make the right clinical decisions.

Specialist training can be entered from a variety of core training programmes (medical, surgical, anaesthetic and GP). It is completed over four years full-time, or pro-rata if training flexibly.

There are numerous opportunities alongside your clinical training to participate in education, research and service development.


Palliative medicine is, without doubt, a challenging field in which to work. However, the potential for improving patients' and families' quality of life is vast, and therefore the rewards are there for the taking.

Your only challenge is in gaining one of the highly sought-after training posts. Go for it!

Applicants from non-physician training routes

Please be aware that the specialty accepts applicants from emergency medicine, GP, surgical, and anaesthetic training routes.

Non-physician applicants must have obtained the basic specialty professional examination relevant to their training pathway (MCEM, MRCGP, MRCS, FRCA) prior to the start of ST3 training, in addition to specific clinical experience.

Please view the palliative medicine person specification for information about the experience and competency required for applying to palliative medicine from a non-physicianly training background.

Please note that palliative medicine has a separate 'Alternative certificate of core comptence' than other medical specialties and applicants who have not come via CMT need to be able to have this form completed at time of application. The form is available to download from the competence page of this website.

Further information