Palliative care is an emerging branch of medicine, health and social care. It has developed at different rates and ways across Europe, with further progress still required in some areas. To promote the growth of this new specialty education is crucial. For many reasons education in palliative care faces many challenges.
Throughout European countries, palliative care is delivered in different settings and contexts in response to specific cultures, availability of resources, and health service configurations, leading to a variety of methods of preparing health and social care professionals to respond to patients and families' needs. Palliative care includes both a generalist approach and specialist care, and should be integrated into undergraduate education for all professionals.
The interdisciplinary nature of palliative care implies that different professionals must be taught to work together, with common goals, considering both professional boundaries and acknowledging that to a certain degree competencies between disciplines may overlap. It is important that all professionals learn the core constituents of palliative care, such as the concepts of dignity, autonomy and quality of life and their application in daily clinical practice, and are taught techniques for good symptom management, psychosocial and spiritual care. These aspects of palliative care education have been addressed by a number of the EAPC taskforces in education which aim to ensure widespread increases in knowledge, skills and attitudes to underpin provision of high quality palliative care.