Rise of the Dual Specialist
Christian T. Sinclair, MD FAAHPM
As the field grows, there is more room for niche specialists.
Whenever I am at a conference or when I meet other palliative care and hospice doctors, I love to find out someone’s origin story. Although each story often shares similar themes, there are always different pauses and beats for each individual. In the past year, I’ve found an increased number of doctors who love palliative care, but who also still want to practice their primary specialty. These hybrid physicians are becoming more prevalent, and their emergence brings new challenges and significant advantages for the future of our field.
In the early years, we had oncologists and internists who practiced palliative care full-time because it was essential to meet the service needs and initiate the system change that paved the way to today. Now we have mature palliative care teams in many hospitals and clinics and a wider diversity of fellowship programs, where psychiatrists, oncologists, emergency medicine doctors, physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors, and others can finish a year-long palliative care fellowship and uniquely define their careers. Some will decide to work in palliative care full-time, but I’m hearing about more who are starting their careers trying to do specialty palliative care along with practicing their primary specialty.