Palliative Medicine

About the specialty: 

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.

Palliative medicine aims to provide high quality, holistic care to patients and their families. Palliative care is delivered in a variety of settings, including hospices, hospitals and in the community. The management of patients with cancer is a key part of palliative care, however, the role of palliative medicine in caring for patients with non-malignant conditions is increasingly recognised, and is expanding rapidly.  Managing a diverse range of conditions, across a range of settings is part of the appeal of palliative medicine. Excellent multi-disciplinary team working is fundamental to delivering palliative care. Palliative medicine physicians may be involved in service development, management of hospice units, education and training and research.  Providing care, with emphasis on quality of life, for patients and their carers faced with a life limiting illness is one of the most rewarding roles of a doctor. Palliative medicine has one of the highest job satisfaction ratings for doctors in training.

Entry into Palliative medicine training is possible following successful completion of both a foundation programme and a core training programme. There are five core training programmes for Palliative Medicine training:

  • Core Medical Training (CMT)
  • Acute Care Common Stem (ACCS)
  • Anaesthetic Training
  • Core Surgical Training
  • General Practice Training
Latest news and developments: 

A new curriculum for dual training in Palliative Medicine and Internal Medicine will be implemented in August 2022, subject to GMC approval. Trainees entering Palliative Medicine in August 2021 will need to transfer to the new curriculum unless it is not safe or practical for them to do so. Trainees who started training prior to August 2021 can remain on the current curriculum and will not be required to transfer but will be supported to if it is safe and practical to do so. Please see our transition page for further information.


A new curriculum for palliative medicine will be implemented in 2022, subject to GMC approval. The consultation is now closed but a copy of the draft curriculum can be found below. 

PDF icon Draft palliative medicine 2022 curriculum

The curriculum for each specialty defines the process of training and the competencies needed for the award of a certificate of completion of training (CCT). The curriculum includes the assessment system for measuring trainees’ progress comprising workplace based assessment and knowledge based assessment.

PDF icon 2010 Palliative Medicine (amended 2014)

Information on the Specialty Certificate Examination (SCE) in Palliative Medicine can be found on the MRCP(UK) website.

Previous versions of the curriculum are no longer available online but copies can be requested from

ARCP Decision Aids: 

The ARCP decision aid for each specialty defines the targets that have to be achieved for a satisfactory ARCP outcome at the end of each training year. 

The decision aid below is a revised version for use during the Covid-19 pandemic. Please also see the JRCPTB guidance

PDF icon Palliative Medicine ARCP Decision Aid for 2021 Covid-19

The standard ARCP decision aid is given below

PDF icon Palliative Medicine ARCP Decision Aid (September 2015)

Forms and guidance: 

2017 National Trainee Survey reports

The following reports are based on the results of the 2017 National Trainee Survey. For copies of older reports email

PDF icon 2017 NTS Palliative Medicine Generic Indicators.pdf

PDF icon 2017 NTS Palliative Medicine Specialty Specific Questions.pdf

Record of Reflective Practice (RRP)

Trainees and trainers should complete the form by creating a new log on the Reflective Practice section of the eportfolio. This form can be saved in draft and completed under the trainee or trainer's login. Please note trainees should not file RRPs in the Personal Library. Reflective practice guidance and a copy of the RRP form are provided below

PDF icon Palliative Medicine guidance on reflective practice.pdf

PDF icon Palliative Record of Reflective Practice 2016.pdf

Guidance for trainees in non-palliative medicine specialties

PDF icon Guidance on palliative and end of life care