Make A Difference To The Terminally Ill As A Pain Management PhysicianJune 3, 2014
Becoming A Pain Management Physician
Pain management is a dreaded reality that will become necessary for many people at some point in their lives. It is typically a vital part of daily care for patients who suffer from any terminal illness. In most cases, pain management goes hand-in-hand with palliative care, where a physician and other supportive health professionals do all they can to make a person’s last few days, weeks or months as comfortable and pain-free as possible.
Pain management has come a long way over the last few years and has evolved to become a medical specialty – palliative care. Pain is almost always a part of terminal illnesses and for those who suffer from any kind of terminal illness, being cared for by a specialty physician who has additional training in this area can make a tremendous difference in quality of care.
Qualities That Are Important For A Physician In Pain Management
As a physician working in pain management, you will come in close contact with patients experiencing a lot of suffering. This will not be a one-off experience but it is something that you will be dealing with every day.
Being able to remain calm and composed no matter what is key to being able to do your job well. However, while you cannot afford to get emotionally involved, being compassionate and showing empathy for the patient are core requirements for a physician in pain management. Respect for the patient is particularly important as patients who are in a lot of pain; especially those with terminal illnesses, often also have to deal with loss of function in daily living.
Working well with others is another crucial quality, as palliative care more often than not involves a number of other health professionals, including nurses and counsellors who are trained in this area. You should have exceptional communication skills and be able to make sound decisions that can be supported by other healthcare workers.
Knowing The Ethics & Legalities Involved In Pain Management
As valuable as pain management is for those who are suffering, this area has more than its fair share of controversies brought on by the many gray areas involved. Sometimes, managing the pain can mean writing prescriptions for controlled medications that may be legal but are stringently regulated due to their potential for abuse. Pain management physicians have to use sound scientific judgment to determine the appropriate dose for the patient so that it provides as much pain relief as possible while minimising the side-effects and likelihood of dependency for the patient.
Should You Choose A Career In Pain Management?
Admittedly, this is not an easy career choice. Watching somebody in pain day in and day out is difficult by itself and can take an emotional toll on anybody. Making things even more complicated is the fact that you have to be emotionally distant while still being compassionate and empathetic. Prescribing medications is another high stress area as you have to walk the fine line between doing what you think is best for the patient while avoiding the potential for litigation should things go wrong. This specialty is best suited to physicians who are logical thinkers and can make recommendations based on facts, not emotion. However, if you truly care about making a terminally ill patient’s life better and more comfortable, working as a physician in pain management can be very rewarding.