Palliative care education in India

Categories: Education.

Palliative care is not included in the undergraduate medical/nursing curricula in the country. Fortunately, recent developments have helped to introduce palliative care in the post graduate curricula. Palliative care was recognized as a specialty by Medical Council of India through their approval of a post graduate program, the MD in Palliative Medicine in 2012.

The MD program in Palliative Medicine was started in 2012 at TATA Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. Two candidates were enrolled for the program in 2012.

There are well developed training programs in palliative care in India. But all these are programs launched by organizations/Institutions working in the field of palliative care.  

Certificate Course in Essentials of Palliative Care- A popular training program for professionals in India

The Indian Association of Palliative Care has launched a training program for Medical and Nursing professionals in India.  The program, Certificate Course in Essentials of Palliative Care which launched in November 2007, aims at improving the skills of health care professionals in India essentially in communicating with patients and controlling difficult symptoms.  Within 5 years, it has become the most popular introductory training program in palliative care education in India. A total of 3990 candidates have registered for the course since November 2007.

The course is delivered through 27 centres in different parts of the country,  thus enabling candidates from all parts of India to join the course through a nearby centre. There are centres in West Bengal, Assam, Orissa, Delhi, Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Andhrapradesh. There are 2 centres in Maharashtra, 3 centres in Tamil Nadu, 5 in Karanaka and 7 centres in Kerala.

The course has two components. Part A, intended to build theoretical base, includes 8 weeks of distance learning with an introductory session in the beginning followed by a contact session of 15 hours. There is an evaluation at the end and the successful candidate will be awarded the Certificate in Essentials of Palliative Care.

Part B of the course is 10 days of hands-on training at selected palliative care units. The certificate awarded to the candidate successfully completing this clinical component of the course will enable them to apply for license to stock and dispense oral morphine under the modified narcotics rules.

The course is delivered by members of the National Faculty in Palliative Care. Now IAPC has 74 National Faculty Members.

Course material for this training program includes the HandBook for Certificate Course in Essentials of Palliative Care. This  has been developed by National Faculty Members. The revised IV edition of the course book edited by Dr Lulu Mathews, Chairperson, Board of Examiners, IAPC, was published in May 2012.

The Certificate Course in Essentials of Palliative Care is an Indian adaptation of similar courses offered in UK and Nepal by the Princess Alice Hospice, UK, and at Milford Care Centre in Ireland.

 Dr Max Watson, who developed the original course, has been involved in the ‘Indianisation’ of the Essential Certificate in Palliative Care.

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