As Americans age, pandemics and other crises loom, and consumers' expectations of personalized care continue to grow, clinicians must prioritize palliative care training to gain greater expertise in treating seriously ill patients.

While any clinician caring for the very ill can deliver palliative care, two hospital-based specialties are prime candidates to benefit from training in its use: hospital medicine (HM) and critical care medicine (CCM). Particularly during crisis situations (like COVID-19) when tensions and fears are higher than normal, it is imperative that these two specialties are well-versed in providing palliative care—and that they’re prepared to talk about options with the patient’s family in nontraditional ways (via FaceTime, phone, etc.) if visitation rules are altered due to crisis.

Before we get into a discussion of why we're calling out HM and CCM specifically, let's first clarify what palliative care is and isn't, look at some pertinent...