I have just been prompted to have a look at the excellent eLearning Pain Module for the RACP. In short it is a fantastic resource that I encourage anyone with access to have a look at here. As I understand it access to this resource is limited to fellows and trainees of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and its administrators so my apologies to anyone not fitting that description reading this blog, as the following may come across as a bit of a tease. (Ed Correction: We have just been informed that anyone can apply for access through the site linked above – i.e. Read on, it is not a tease at all)
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.
- 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.
- 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.
The recent death of comedian Joan Rivers has brought end-of-life issues to the forefront. Kübler-Ross collaborator David Kessler wrote a piece in the Huffington Post on “Melissa Rivers’ Courageous Decision” to take her mother “off life support”. He gives advice to families going through the same decision-making process. Joan Rivers’ funeral plans, which she wrote about in a 2012 book, have also been getting wide coverage in the mainstream media. (Huffington Post, USA Today, news.com.au)
Nicholas Talley, President of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (home to the Australasian Chapter of Palliative Medicine and therefore all palliative medicine specialists and trainees in Australia and New Zealand) has called for Australian governments to invest in and support further clinical trials into the benefits and risks of medicinal cannabis. In his piece for The Age, he speaks of humanity, compassion, patient-centred care and evidence-based medicine. (The Age)