Elsewhere in the Palliverse – Weekend Reads

Has anyone watched Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal series for Frontline in the US? There’s also a selection of shorter videos at the Frontline YouTube page, like the one above.

Oliver Sacks has written a beautiful piece in the New York Times, about his reaction to being diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. (My Own Life: Oliver Sacks On Learning He Has Terminal Cancer) Continue reading

A Tour of the Teams: Centre for Palliative Care, Melbourne

The Centre for Palliative Care is the academic arm of the palliative care service based at St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne.  It is a collaborative centre of the University of Melbourne and has a goal and vision to enhance palliative care provision through enhancing research and education in the state of Victoria, Australia.

As such, the Centre has a significant research output with both clinician and academic researchers in the programs of:

  • models of palliative care delivery;
  • psychosocial support; and
  • clinical and symptom trials.

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Elissa in Wonderland – Reflections on Research

I feel like I’ve learnt more in the past 3 weeks in my research fellowship than I did in the preceding year of clinical work. It’s a steep learning curve, and one that’s taken me out of my comfort zone.

Doctors are generally very comfortable in their role as clinician, and far less so in other roles, such as manager or researcher. Our training prepares us to be experts in clinical management and even if we don’t know the answer, we know where to go look for it. The positive feedback in clinical work can be rapid (provide an intervention, see an improvement for the patient, repeat, hurrah!), unlike management or research roles. Continue reading

Lighting a candle in the darkness


“It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness” is the mantra of
Dr Bruce Robinson, a lung cancer specialist and professor at the University of Western Australia.

© Nevit Dilmen [CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

© Nevit Dilmen [CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Founder of The Fathering Project, Bruce has created an Australian example of a public health approach to end of life care. This approach focuses largely on ‘upstream’ social determinants of health that affect an entire population, while the ‘downstream’ focus relates more to clinical treatment of a ‘patient’ presenting to a health service.

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8 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My First Research Project

This is advice I give to people starting out in advanced training in palliative medicine (or geriatric medicine, my other training specialty) when asked about research projects*. It may also be relevant to other clinicians wanting to start out in research. The advice is based on my own experience and from talking to other trainees. One-hundred hours into your project, you do not want to discover that your study design is flawed or your results invalid. This advice may help to prevent that.

  1. Your research supervisor does not need to be the same person as your clinical supervisor. Unless your clinical supervisor is also a researcher, I would advise looking for someone else to supervise you, who has a research background. They do not need to come from your specialty or profession (although obviously some familiarity with your broad research topic is important). They may be based in a different city or country (although it may create complications with ethics approvals if your supervisor is from different institution).

Your supervisor can guide you through your study design. This improves the likelihood of producing valid results, which you can then publish and add to palliative care knowledge for the benefit of palliative care patients (because this is why we’re doing this research thing, right?)

If you’re not sure where to start looking for a supervisor, ask an academic in your field if they can recommend anyone. If you want to do palliative care research, the Palliverse researcher database is a good place to start.

  1. Librarians are very helpful. Most hospitals or health services have librarians who can assist you to use search engines, citation managers and other programs more efficiently. The library probably has resources that you don’t even know about.

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Special guest post – Dr Chris Sanderson on #lettertome

Dear readers,

We are honoured to bring you a guest post, in fact two, and indeed we hope more, from the fabulous Dr Chris Sanderson, palliative care physician.  I have to say that I was so inspired by this idea, by putting patients at the centre of our communication, where they should be, that I totally stole this idea for my own Change Day pledge.

Below is part one of her description of her pledge for Change Day, #lettertome.

#lettertome : A twitter campaign to improve how we share information with patients.

Social media is such a wonderful space for spreading ideas – and sometimes the simplest ideas may convey a world of significance. Recently on twitter, there was a conversation between various doctors and patient advocates about how we speak to and about our patients, and the subject of doctors’ letters was raised. Thus was born a new hashtag, a pledge for Change Day Australia, and potentially a new way of doing things.

Continue reading

Abstracts for Palliative Care Australia conference are open!

And this year it’s sunny Melbourne for the PCA conference. Abstracts are open, and close 13th April.


Palliative Care: Fit for the Future
1 – 4 September 2015, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

What will the future look like?

Who is part of our future?

How do we get ready for the future in palliative care?

(E-Hanging out with the team at Palliverse is an excellent start!)

Posters will be electronic only which is neat.

I have a couple of ideas already…. planning to submit anything?


Hospice New Zealand Palliative Care Lecture Series 2015

Hospice NZ PC lecture series 2015

Hospice New Zealand is once again presenting a lecture series on palliative care this year. The lectures are held on the first Thursday of every month at 7:30am NZDT/NZST and are available by teleconference at various sites across New Zealand. The first lecture on nausea and vomiting was delivered last week by Dr Michael Downing.

You can also listen to lectures from the previous series by simply registering here. Awesome!

Reflections on research – a week of firsts

This is the first in a regular series of posts by Palliverse team members about their day-to-day experiences in research roles.

This week was a week of firsts for me. For the first time as a doctor, I am in a role that is primarily non-clinical. On Monday, I commenced a 1-year research fellowship based in theDepartment of Palliative Care at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth, Western Australia. It is also the first time I will be in the same position for a whole year (training terms for junior doctors generally ranging from 10 weeks to 6 months duration in WA). It’s the first job I’ve had where it’s my responsibility to set my own schedule, without the routine of ward rounds, clinics, home visits and consult referrals. It’s my first time working at this hospital – in fact, Monday was the first day at this hospital for most of our team. It is a brand new facility. The Emergency Department saw its first ever patient on Tuesday. More patients will be transferred from another hospital over the weekend. Our palliative care team (doctors, nurses and social worker) have come together from various services, care settings and states. It’s a great opportunity for us to learn from each other and so far it’s functioning very well. There is a fantastic energy at this new hospital – all the staff I’ve encountered are enthusiastic about change (for the better) and it is a great opportunity to get things done without the burden of “that’s how we’ve always done it” thinking. Continue reading

Palace of Care – After the moment

Currently… you look so sad.
Currently… you look so mad.
Currently… you look so bewildered.
Currently… you look so disempowered.
Currently… you look so past your best.
Currently… you look so, ‘the worst of the rest.’
Currently… you look so useless.
Currently… you look so hopeless.
Previously…we; were friends.