Psycho-Oncology: A new specialty

January is set as date to initiate the process of making Psycho-oncology PIR (Psychologist in Residency) a reality. With the beginning of the year, the profession will initiate the procedures for this new specialty to take off. Additionally, the plan is to integrate the professional field with palliative care, aiming to create a PIR that encompasses both topics, which have numerous points of convergence.

This was confirmed by Fernando Chacón, deputy to the president of the General Council of Psychology of Spain (COP). “We have a joint program with all the Psychooncology and Palliative Care societies,” explains Chacón, mentioning that by January, “they will have all the relevant documentation prepared and ready” to start the procedures.

Autonomous route to expedite the process

Taking the recent example of the request to create the PIR in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, the spokesperson explains that, for this new specialty, they will directly opt for the autonomous route, meaning, move the project through the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System of Spain. “As soon as the year starts, we will request meetings with all the Health Ministers,” Chacón adds, arguing that this “seems to be the most effective way” since the ministerial path “appears to become impossible.”

The potential specialty already has a technical document outlining and establishing its competencies and field of activity. “A new program needs to be configured because the care for oncology patients and palliative care is very different from treating a mental illness,” explains the spokesperson. He argues that, in this case, psychologists do not treat an illness but rather address complex situations and how humans react and cope with them. “This is a different area of competence,” he emphasizes.

“The psychological care for oncology patients is very different from addressing a patient with a mental illness.”

The specialist emerging from this PIR will have a hospital focus, although there is also a component of home care. “Still, these psychologists will always depend on the hospital services,” emphasizes the COP representative.

Now they must start making moves so that at least seven autonomous communities endorse their project, making the specialty a reality. “We have already made some preliminary approaches, but with the change of government and also the regional elections, everything has been on hold,” recalls Fernando Chacón.

Boosted by the Psychology Infant PIR

The potential Psychooncology and Palliative Care PIR do not want to ‘trip over the same stone’ as the Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology PIR. The request for this specialty, sent to the Ministry of Health in the summer, was returned by the ministry due to “technical problems.” As explained, what happened was that the autonomous communities stated that “with their verbal approval,” they could support the request, but the Ministry of Health requested seven technical reports to endorse the project.

In this way, the scientific societies behind the request had to reformulate it and start moving it through the aforementioned autonomous route. As confirmed to this medium, Madrid is one of the autonomous communities supporting the project and will promote its approval. It remains to be seen if the potential Psychooncology and Palliative Care PIR will have it “easier” than its counterpart.

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