Elsewhere in the Palliverse – Weekend Reads

photo by David Mao itsdavo

Welcome to the 23rd edition of Elsewhere in the Palliverse. I hope you find value in this week’s links about palliative care and research – complete with animal story.

You’re welcome, animal-lovers.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Brand new blog DocGrief is “a dedicated space for health professionals to reflect and explore our relationship with death and grief, particularly when personally affected by a death in the family.” It was started by a rural GP based in South Australia. Her first post is heartfelt and I am following with interest. Continue reading

Palliative medicine training in Australia


Following up from Michael’s post a few days ago about palliative medicine training jobs, here are a few more useful links for Palliverse readers thinking about enhancing their medical careers through further training in palliative medicine:

  • An overview of advanced training (three years), which is required to become a palliative medicine specialist in Australia and New Zealand
  • Information about the clinical diploma (six months), which offers all medical practitioners an immersive experience in palliative medicine
  • List of accredited palliative medicine training sites in Australia and New Zealand
  • Registrar and clinical research fellow positions in Sydney (applications close August 13th)
  • Registrar positions in Canberra (applications close July 31st)
  • Registrar and fellow positions in Victoria (applications close August 10th)
  • Information about palliative medicine training in Queensland
  • Apply for palliative medicine training in South Australia (applications close July 31st)

I couldn’t find much stuff online about palliative medicine training in New Zealand, Western Australia or Tasmania. If you know of any good resources on these topics, please share them with the rest of the Palliverse community! Thanks in advance 🙂

Palace of Care – What was the best thing you did the other week?

the mystery

I managed to track down the burial location of the baby of one of our patients who had tragically lost their first baby, by stillbirth, over 20 years ago. Due to various reasons the grieving couple never found out where their baby was buried within a large local cemetery.

I had no idea how to start the search, so I asked around. Thanks to everyone who suggested that I contact the local council. A quick search of their website found a section where you can search for burial locations online yourself. This did not yield any results, but led me to another section of the website that allowed me to send a query email.

A few days later a real human answered, and suggested that I emailed someone else. Two days later I was sent a reply with a picture of a map of the cemetery with a highlighted area within which their baby had been buried. One of our counsellors kindly delivered the information package to the couple, time was of the essence as our patient was deteriorating rapidly.

Two days later our patient died. The bereaved spouse was able to tell us later that our patient could now be together with their long-lost baby.

I would love to hear your stories, y’all have a good weekend.



How badly do we want to solve this $32bn dollar persistent pain problem? | via @ConversationEDU

It’s National Pain Week in Australia and I wanted to share this excellent article by Pain Specialist Dr Michael Vagg, first published in The Conversation. I have huge respect for my colleagues caring for people with persistent pain. It is a challenging specialty, often dealing with complex physical, psychological, social and existential challenges, in the setting of limited resources. We often call upon their services to help manage palliative care patients (particularly with interventions like intrathecal catheters or nerve blocks). Also, as the palliative care approach is being taken earlier in the trajectory of many diseases, we are increasingly caring for patients with persistent pain. – Elissa

How badly do we want to solve this $32bn dollar persistent pain problem?

Michael Vagg, Barwon Health

This week is National Pain Week so it’s only fitting that I should climb onto the soapbox again in support of people with persistent pain, their employers, workmates, friends, and families. The economic burden of persistent pain in our country is enormous, and the arguments in favour of a co-ordinated national response are compelling. The lack of such a political and economic imperative puzzles me. If you don’t believe me, perhaps this will convince you. Continue reading

Job applications for 2016 ahoy!!

As many who work in palliative medicine would be acutely aware the process of applying for next year’s job is beginning in earnest.

High on the

High on the “must do” list for some. cc https://www.flazingo.com/creativecommons

Continue reading

Elsewhere in the Palliverse – Weekend Reads

photo by David Mao itsdavoI have a few palliative care links to share this week. If you’re not satisfied, we also share links on our Facebook page and Twitter account (you don’t need your own Twitter account to see what we’re posting), and you can check out our Elsewhere in the Palliverse archives.

At the End of Life Studies blog, Dr Naomi Richards examines the question, “Is the voluntary refusal of food and fluid an alternative to assisted dying“?

Talking About Dying Won’t Kill You, says Palliative Care Australia, writes comedian Jean Kittson (Sydney Morning Herald)

And a palliative care nurse told me that day after day she visited a person dying at home and day after day she walked into a house full of scented candles and rainforest music, until one day she said “Is anyone else sick of these scented candles?” and the family said “Yes”.  “And is anyone else sick of this rainforest music?” And the family said “Yes”. So the nurse said “Well, let’s open some windows, and what music does your mum like? OK, let’s put on some Stones.”

Continue reading

Palace of Care – Tell me what the best thing you did this week was…

Image of the week
The best thing that I did all week:

The other day I made a patient laugh and smile, two of my favourite things to do as a doctor.

Two men from completely different walks of life, in the space of 15 minutes, made a human connection through humour, blokey-ness and general conversation.

I wished him a good night and said that we would talk again tomorrow about transferring him back to his original hometown.

Neither of us knew that mere hours later one of us would not be alive any more.

Please share with the Palliverse community what the best thing you did all week was.



Research Basics: EQUATOR, CONSORT, STROBE – what’s all that about?

EQUATOR is a good place to start if you’re struggling with writing up your research protocol or results. The EQUATOR Network (Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research) provides guidelines for reporting different types of health research. The EQUATOR Network is an international initiative that aims to “achieve accurate, complete, and transparent reporting of all health research studies” and includes researchers, journal editors, peer reviewers, and other relevant bodies. Continue reading

Mad cow disease does not exist!

There was an annoyingly inaccurate article concerning CJD  in national newspapers last week.

CJD is a degenerative neurological  disorder which occurs at a frequency of about one in a million per year. In Australia, 90% are sporadic and 10% of cases are genetic. There has never been a case of variant CJD (contracted by eating contaminated meat) in Australia.

As it’s so rare, often doctors have never seen a case before. It can be quite traumatic for patients and families to go through the process of diagnosis.

Articles such as that which appeared last week contribute to the stigma experienced by families. Linked is a well informed article by Mandy Newton, whose father and sister died of CJD and who herself caries the gene and will go on to die of CJD.

As a hardworking palliative care specialist I have cared for around 10 patients with CJD (which is a lot apparently!) My colleagues and I are presenting a talk at the PCA conference in September about 14 patients and their presenting features and course.

Have you had experience with patients dying from CJD and their families?


Elsewhere in the Palliverse – Weekend Reads

photo by David Mao itsdavo

Welcome to this weekend’s reads. People seem to enjoy the cute animal stories, so I’ve included one (near the end, if you want to read it first).

The latest paediatric palliative care video (below) from Little Stars is about treating chronic pain in children. It’s nice to see how the interdisciplinary team interacts with, and respects, the girl in the video.

An article that is all over my social media feeds this week: Knowing How Doctors Die Can Change End of Life Discussions. It also brought back to mind this article on How Doctors Die. (NPR)

“I felt like I was beating up people at the end of their life…I would be doing the CPR with tears coming down sometimes, and saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, goodbye.’ Because I knew that it very likely not going to be successful. It just seemed a terrible way to end someone’s life.” Continue reading