This program prepares residents for rewarding careers in the practice of palliative medicine. Our faculty and inter-professional teams leverage our excellent curriculum and resources to offer you the best possible training.

Palliative Medicine

"The program here is fantastic, and I am confident that I am developing the competencies I need to become an effective palliative care specialist. Among the many assets of the program is the strong emphasis on mentorship."

Dr. Leah O'Shea, Palliative Medicine Resident

"The best part about completing the Palliative Care PGY3 year in Ottawa is that there is a larger group of residents compared to most other programs. Having a peer group for studying, social activities, and support in general makes a big difference!"

Dr. Grace Warmels and Dr. Adrianna Bruni, Palliative Medicine Graduates

Goals and Objectives

  • To train family physicians who will provide primary and consultant palliative care services to have added competency in palliative medicine; and,
  • To provide clinical and basic academic training for physicians who may go on to academic careers in palliative medicine.

Successful residents will acquire a broad-based understanding of the principles, philosophy, and core knowledge, skills and attitudes of palliative medicine.

Program graduates with Dr. Barnes

Program Structure

The educational objectives of the Program are defined and operationalized within our rotation structure, longitudinal experiences, and formal teaching curriculum. The objectives reflect the various roles of physicians as defined by CanMEDS, including Medical Expert, Communicator, Collaborator, Leader, Health Advocate, Scholar, and Professional.

Clinical rotations in the Program are distributed across academic and community teaching sites in the Ottawa region. There are also several longitudinal aspects to the Program, and many elective experiences are available. Some of our core Program components are described below.

The Palliative Care Unit (PCU) consists of 31 inpatient beds and is staffed by an interprofessional team. Persons with advanced life-limiting illnesses are admitted to the unit for symptom management and/or end-of-life care.

Our trainees spend four blocks on the PCU, divided into two rotations. The first rotation occurs early in the resident’s training to teach basic palliative care principles, including symptom management. This rotation also allows for observation and teaching on communication skills, such as goals of care discussions and end-of-life and/or discharge planning. The second rotation (PCU-2) occurs near the end of the year. During the PCU-2 rotation, trainees act as a preceptor for other learners on the PCU and manage the team in a junior staff role.

The trainee works as a member of the interprofessional team providing care to the patients and their families. The trainee is responsible for the daily care of patients, including attendance at team rounds and family meetings.

Palliative Medicine residents and Dr Christopher Barnes (Program Director)

Our trainees spend three blocks with the inpatient Supportive and Palliative Care Consultation Service at TOH; two at the General Campus, and one at the Civic Campus. The Supportive and Palliative Care Consultation Service is an interprofessional team that provides inpatient and out-patient ambulatory services. Consultations focus on symptom control, psychosocial and spiritual support.  The trainee, under the supervision of a Palliative Medicine Consultant, works as a member of the interprofessional team providing inpatient consultation services.

The Civic Campus offers an opportunity to provide inpatient consult care to patients with palliative care issues in non-oncological diseases, including at the Ottawa Heart Institute. All of the oncology beds for the Integrated Cancer Program are located at the General Campus.

The General Campus is also home to the Acute Palliative Care Unit (aPCU).  It is a 4-bed unit where care is provided as the attending team for patients that require the resources of an acute care hospital and palliative needs are the primary focus of their care.  Residents may be integrated into the aPCU team during their inpatient consultation blocks at the General Campus.

The RPCT supports, educates, and assists primary care providers in the community to provide high quality care to palliative care patients. Services include 24/7 telephone consultation, educational sessions, information on community palliative care resources, and community-based consultation services (in homes, long-term care facilities, hospices and other residential facilities).

Our trainees spend at least one block with the RPCT. The resident, under the supervision of a Palliative Medicine Consultant and the Advanced Nurse Practitioner Service Coordinator, works with the RPCT to provide telephone and home consultation. The trainee may also provide education to Family Medicine residents in their Palliative Care rotation, and assist with the care of the Family Medicine residents’ patients in the community, particularly those in hospices.

The academic Division of Palliative Medicine collaborates with community-based palliative care teams to provide a training experience as the primary physician for palliative care patients in the community.  This rotation compliments the consultative community experience of the RPCT.

Trainees spend at least one block under the supervision of one of the community palliative care teams in Ottawa.  The trainee will shadow their physician-preceptor early in the rotation, and progress to performing independent visits, including to homes, long-term care facilities, hospices and other residential facilities.

Our trainees participate in one oncology rotation, divided between Medical and Radiation Oncology. The Integrated Cancer Program, part of TOH, addresses the oncology needs of the eastern Ontario region. Under the supervision of attending medical and radiation oncologists, our trainees participate in the care of patients attending medical and radiation oncology ambulatory clinics at TOH Cancer Centre. Emphasis is placed on the most common malignancies seen in palliative care - lung, breast, prostate and colon cancers.

There are three blocks in which you can choose an elective that is related to Palliative Medicine and your career goals. Both clinical and academic/research electives are available. The Program Director assists our trainees to select electives to achieve their learning goals. Residents commonly choose (but are not limited to) electives in the following areas: pain medicine, medical subspecialties, additional community palliative care teams, spiritual care, scholarship, and others.

Our trainees attend a Palliative Care Clinic at The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre once every four weeks over the course of the Program. Dedicated blocks in these clinics are available as an elective. Trainees work closely with a Palliative Medicine Consultant to provide longitudinal follow up of ambulatory palliative care patients. Trainees gain experience in following patients as their symptom burden and psychosocial needs change over the illness trajectory. Similar to the RPCT and community rotations, the Longitudinal Clinics provide trainees with the competence to manage the unique aspects of community and ambulatory palliative care, as they differ from the inpatient setting.

The clinics also allow for each trainee to gradually increase their independence as they work with a consistent supervisor over the course of the Program.

Verbatims are an opportunity for palliative medicine trainees to improve their communication, collaboration, advocacy, and professionalism competencies using an interactive, low-stakes model. Communication techniques in challenging encounters (especially those involving conflict) are taught and rehearsed. The trainee learns how to reframe situations from conflict to collaboration when possible. Coaching and self-reflection allows them to balance the needs of others with their own self-care, which will lead to greater professional resilience. Coaching is provided one-on-one by a social worker or spiritual care professional. Sessions are held for one hour every other month.

Residents have an option to complete a "half-day back" in a family medicine clinic in order to maintain and advance their core skills.  The frequency of these clinics is variable, but often one half-day back every two weeks has worked well for interested residents.

Trainees participate in teaching sessions and rounds several times per month. These sessions include clinical interprofessional team rounds, Journal Club, LEAP seminars, Morbidity & Mortality Rounds, Academic Half-Days (each week), and Regional Academic Rounds. Residents also assist with teaching second-year medical students during "Integration Week" in palliative care. There are also opportunities to provide additional teaching with the support of the Faculty.

Each trainee will complete a scholarly project over the course of the Program. The Faculty will assist the trainee to identify a topic and supervisor. Projects can be focused on research, medical education, or quality improvement. Each trainee is assigned a separate mentor in the Faculty that provides guidance, support, and career counselling.

Our program prides itself on being flexible. We value our history of training residents and fellows from varying career paths and backgrounds – from Family Medicine, to Emergency Medicine, to Pediatrics, to Critical Care. Our Program will work hard to accommodate to your individual learning goals, and we have the resources to help you succeed.

The Family Medicine Enhanced Skills Program is designed for delivery over one year. The year consists of 13 blocks, each being approximately four weeks in length. The blocks are scheduled as core or elective rotations, with some rotations spanning more than one block.

A mock schedule is as follows:

B01 - Palliative Care Unit (Bruyere)

B02 - Palliative Care Unit (Bruyere)

B03 - Regional Palliative Consultation Team

B04 - Elective

B05 - Palliative Care Consults (TOH-General)

B06 - Palliative Care Consults (TOH-General)

B07 - Elective

B08 - Community Palliative Care

B09 - Palliative Care Consults (TOH-Civic)

B10 - Elective

B11 - Oncology

B12 - Palliative Care Unit (Bruyere), Junior Staff Role

B13 - Palliative Care Unit (Bruyere), Junior Staff Role


The Palliative Medicine Residency Program is based out of Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital.  Residents' training will take place across multiple sites in Ottawa.

1) Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital

  • Palliative Care Unit
  • Regional Palliative Consultation Team
  • General Campus
  • Civic Campus
  • Irving Greenberg Family Cancer Centre on the campus of the Queensway Carleton Hospital
  • Patient homes
  • Retirement homes
  • Long-term care
  • Hospices


The program is accredited by the College of Family Physicians of Canada. You must have completed a residency in family medicine and hold (or be eligible for) an educational or independent practice license in Ontario in order to apply to the program.

How to Apply

Resident and Graduate Testimonials

I highly recommend the PGY3 Enhanced Skills Program in Palliative Medicine at the University of Ottawa! The program here is fantastic, and I am confident that I am developing the competencies I need to become an effective palliative care specialist. Among the many assets of the program is the strong emphasis on mentorship. Each resident is paired with a staff who is available to discuss any concerns, offer support and provide career advice. This one-on-one guidance has been invaluable.

In addition, the city of Ottawa is a great place to work and live! Ottawa has all the amenities of an urban city and it is rich in history, diversity, and culture. With the added bonus of close proximity to many beautiful outdoor spaces that can be enjoyed in all four seasons, Ottawa is an ideal city for those with an active lifestyle. I am not from Ottawa originally but now call this city home and am very happy with my decision to begin my career here!

Dr. Leah O’Shea, Resident

We are both graduates of the Ottawa Palliative Care PGY3 Program. Each rotation offers formal and informal teaching from supervisors who are passionate and engaging. The program prioritizes bedside teaching and inter-professional case discussions, while ensuring that learners also have access to the 'basics' like LEAP modules. The outpatient and community palliative care blocks are really strong, and there is even an option to maintain family medicine skills by continuing with half-day FM clinics. The best part about completing the Palliative Care PGY3 year in Ottawa is that there is a larger group of residents compared to most other programs. Having a peer group for studying, social activities, and support in general makes a big difference!

Dr. Grace Warmels and Dr. Adrianna Bruni, Graduates

Pall Care Group 2

For highlights and more information regarding the Palliative Medicine Residency and Fellowship Program, please view our video:

If you have any additional questions, please reach out to the Program Administrator, Sarah Marsaw, at [email protected]