Certified Palliative Medicine Physicians on the Rise

835 are now credentialed

The american board of hospice and palliative Medicine (ABHPM) granted certification to an additional 56 physicians as of July 1, bringing the total to 835 physicians certified worldwide in the specialty of hospice and palliative medicine.

The medical specialty of palliative medicine is devoted to achieving the best possible quality of life for patients and their families faced with a life-threatening or terminal illness. Physicians who achieve certification from ABHPM are recognized as experts in the practice of palliative medicine.

"The art and science of care for patients who are not likely to be cured has always been an important part of the physician’s role," says Ronald Schonwetter, MD, chairman of the ABHPM. "Unfortunately, for the last generation of physicians, training in palliative care was not considered important. Physicians had to keep up with all of the technological advances in curative medicine. But all patients die eventually. And unless the physician is skilled in providing pain control, symptom relief, and working with a palliative care or hospice team, patients generally will not have the opportunities for comfort, dignity and closure that they deserve. ABHPM diplomates are the physicians helping medicine realize the importance of high quality end-of-life care."

Eligibility requirements for certification from ABHPM are significant. Applicants for certification must have received prior major specialty certification, have practiced at least 2 years following residency, have worked as a member of an interdisciplinary team for at least 2 years and have directly participated in the active care of at least 50 terminally ill patients in the preceding 3 years. Applicants who meet these requirements are then permitted to sit for the annual certifying examination, which covers pain in cancer and noncancer patients, management of non-pain symptoms, hospice and palliative approach to care, ethical and legal decision making at the end of life, death and dying, and communication and team work.

ABHPM will offer the certifying examination again on Oct. 13. Applications to sit for the examination must be received by Aug. 31.

(Editor’s note: A handbook for examination applicants as well as other information on the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine may be obtained from the web site at www.ABHPM.org or by calling 301.439.8001. )

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