Entry requirements, skills and interests (palliative medicine)

This page provides useful information about the entry requirements, qualifications and work experience, and skills, qualities and interests that will help you get into palliative medicine.

Entry requirements

Prior to starting your specialty training you need to have completed a medical degree followed by the two-year foundation programme and then two or three years of core training. If you have already made a decision to pursue a career in palliative medicine, try to get experience in this specialty or a related area.

To find information about getting into medical school, visit our applying to medicine pages.

To find information about the Foundation Programme, visit our applying for foundation training page.

Skills and interests

The skills and interests you will need include:

  • highly-developed communication skills in order to deal sensitively with people in difficult circumstances
  • a high level of personal credibility as a clinician
  • taking responsibility for your own work
  • working well in a team and with other teams (sometimes in a leadership role)
  • adaptability and resilience
  • compassion, empathy, a flexible outlook and a sense of humour
  • interests such as enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and improving end of life care and developing multicultural awareness

Doctors in palliative care also have well-developed skills in bedside clinical assessment (especially in settings and situations when routine investigations would not be appropriate).

They also need:

  • expertise in managing difficult pain, physical symptoms and psychological distress
  • excellent decision-making in the context of changing and distressing situations using sound knowledge of ethical considerations
  • the ability to communicate with patients, families and a range of professionals when there may be disagreement and conflict¬†

If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services you'll be asked to show how you think the NHS values apply in your everyday work. The same will be true if you're applying for a university course funded by the NHS.

Find out more about NHS values.

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