11 doctors from various specialties across Thailand have successfully completed the Basic Certificate Course in Palliative Medicine (BCCPM), a program supported by the Thai Palliative Care Society (THAPS) and Thai Health Promotion Foundation. These pioneer doctors will go back to their hospitals, providing palliative care services for patients and expanding palliative care awareness in Thailand.
The course is an eight-week module, covering basic knowledge in palliative care. Starting with lectures, candidates then are exposed to various clinical situations, learning from actual practice during their rotation at Srinagarind Hospital. Subsequently they returned to their respective hospitals. The candidates then came back to Karunruk Centre after eight weeks to submit their case reports, topic discussions and have examinations, ensuring that they were thoroughly evaluated and ready to practice as palliative care doctors after finishing the course.
“This is the first time that I could clearly see that there are other methods to alleviate dyspnea in terminal patients without having to intubate them,” said one of the doctors who joined the course. “I also feel more confident about managing other symptoms in palliative care patients and also not so terrified of morphine anymore”.
Another doctor mentioned how effective community support could extend to palliative care patients at home: “I could see the whole picture now, as to how palliative care patients would be able to stay comfortably at home, as they had hoped. We need adequate symptom management, equipment, networking between hospitals, good referral systems, and also an emergency contact number for the patient and family, so that they would not feel abandoned by us.”
A doctor who works in a large teaching hospital also shared an interesting insight: “For me, apart from working with patients, I have to teach undergraduate medical students, and I feel much more confident teaching them about palliative care. They don’t need all of the basic knowledge about palliative care but they do need the palliative approach for every patient they meet. I myself also understand the meaning of holistic care after taking this course.”
“Since I am one of the administrative members of the medical staff organisation at my hospital, I have already emphasised the importance of palliative care to other members. Hopefully, we will have more financial support and manpower for palliative care,” a senior doctor noted as he shared his future plan for palliative care at his hospital.
“I’m very pleased with the first batch of this course,” said Dr Srivieng Pairojkul, the course director, and also director of Karunruk Palliative Care Centre. “However, I wish that we could spend more time to practice communication skills which is a foundation for providing good palliative care. (The doctors) also would have a better understanding of palliative care patients if they spent more time in the ward. We will analyse and improve the course for next year.”
As the most active academic centre in palliative care in Thailand with the largest number of patients, Karunruk centre also provides other courses throughout the year such as the Basic Certificate Course in Palliative Nursing (BCCPN) and Palliative Care for Pharmacists. Clinicians who are interested in any of the training programs or want to further their knowledge with clinical attachments here, please contact Dr Pairojkul.
The aim of this course is to provide basic knowledge and raise palliative care awareness in Thailand. Since this is the initiation phase of a three-year project, we could only provide the course at two training centres, Karunruk Centre, and Ramathibodi Hospital, Bangkok. More training centres in other areas of Thailand will soon follow in upcoming years.