During the last decades, an increasing awareness of the need for a defined area of medicine to take care of patients with advanced, life-threatening disease has emerged in all the Nordic countries. Official reports have been published, giving recommendations for the establishment of specialist palliative care services nation-wide, and an increasing number of palliative health care programs are being set up. Although palliative medicine has been approved as a formal competence field in Finland, Norway and Denmark, and established as an add-on medical specialty in Sweden, up to now a limited number of physicians in the Nordic countries have education and experience in the field. We are facing the situation that new palliative care units and programs might be established without the appropriate medical staffing. This situation presents a need to educate doctors in the Nordic countries in palliative medicine at a specialist level.
A joint venture between the Associations for Palliative Medicine in the Nordic countries has resulted in this theoretical specialist training course in 6 modules over 2 years. Each module lasts 5 days, Monday-Friday. The first course started in 2003 and the 7th course ends in April 2017. The 8th course will start in September 2017.
Throughout the modules all major topics in palliative medicine will be covered. A limited research project is included in the course. This may be quantitative or qualitative, in the form of a survey, an audit, development of a clinical guideline, or conducting a systematic review. The students should work on their projects throughout the course period and need to allocate the necessary time for this work. The projects will be presented on Module 6. Students already having an ongoing project may use this, provided it is their own work.
A written assignment must be handed in 4 weeks after each module.
The assignments will be marked Pass/Not pass.
The students and the Steering Committee continously evaluate each module and the course as a whole. Overall, the students have given the course very high ratings.