First Year Trainee Headcount*
Advanced Trainee Headcount*
New College Fellow Headcount*
Specialist Headcount*
Median Age*
Headcount Over 65 Years Old*
*WA figures sourced from NHWDS & MET

Pain medicine is a multidisciplinary approach to managing and alleviating pain throughout the body from headaches to foot pain and everything in between. Pain medicine specialists work to fix acute, chronic, and palliative pain.

A typical day involves an acute pain round, clinics for treating pain, attending multidisciplinary meetings to discuss various cases with allied health, psychiatry, and addiction medicine and procedural work if applicable to you. Most of the work is outpatient but there is still a significant inpatient role.

Approx 50% of pain medicine specialists are procedural which means you will spend time in theatre undertaking a variety of procedural interventions from simple procedures such as steroid injections to using advanced technologies like spinal cord stimulation to override severe pain conditions with implantable devices.

As a pain medicine specialist, you need to:

  • Have a strong empathy for your patients who may have complex chronic medical conditions
  • Work well as part of multidisciplinary team – medical, allied health and nursing
  • Have good technical skills – if you decide to pursue the procedural pathway

Pain medicine is a growing specialty because most pain is age related and we have an aging population. You get to make a big difference and achieve a lot of good in people that you wouldn’t even consider as chronic pain patients. You can do a lot more for people in pain than many realise, and the negative perception of what pain looks like for most is not necessarily accurate.

There are multiple pathways to gain entry onto the training program which is moderately competitive in WA. There are currently 2 – 4 training positions per intake each year.

The training program is two years, and you can complete this as part of your advanced training concurrently with your primary clinical specialty (e.g., anaesthesia, rehab medicine, emergency medicine and psychiatry). This does require planning so it’s important to be aware of your requirements at the start of your training.

You have two years to complete your exams and we recommend you complete these in your first year, specifically your fellowship exam, if you can. This means you can use your second year to focus on the procedural side of training (if you are going to pursue this pathway).

If you are interested in pain medicine, we recommend you approach your health site’s pain medicine unit and request exposure as part of your PDL.

The demand for pain medicine is currently very undersupplied and this is likely to continue given we have an ageing population, and a lot of pain medicine is related to one’s age.