Postgraduate Studies in Algology

Course content

Algology is the medical treatment of pain.
The general objective of the education in Algology is to educate qualified specialists in the control of pain in its widest sense. During this postgraduate education the physician gains the necessary scientific knowledge, skills and attitudes in order to provide an excellent patient care to patients with complex pain issues. The student gains a profound insight in complex forms of acute, subacute and chronic pain. The student has to develop additional communicative, social, technical and manual skills to evaluate patients on a multidisciplinary level and to function in a multidisciplinary team.

More specifically, at the end of the postgraduate:

  • The students will be able to investigate acute pain syndromes, establish a suitable treatment for such acute nociceptive syndromes and follow up on the result continuously.
  • The students are able to evaluate the multidisciplinary character of a specific pain syndrome, including the implications of such pain complaints on the socio-economical functioning of the patients and the psycho-social consequences that derive from it.
  • The students are capable to perform a full evaluation of chronic pain syndromes, based on specific pain anamnesis, somatosensory clinical evaluations, application of specialized nociceptive diagnostic techniques and hetero-anamnesis.
  • The students are capable to draw up a individualized multimodal and multidisciplinary treatment plan, explain such plan to the patient (and his/her family) and follow up on its implementation in a competent way.
  • The students are capable to guide the patient actively and competently during revalidation programs, so that the reconditioning, reactivation and socio-economical reintegration can be optimized and facilitated.
  • The students are capable to evaluate insufficient analgesia from an ethical, moral and social point of view.

Course structure

The Postgraduate Studies in Algology constitutes a 2 year full-time training programme of 40 credits and is organized every 2 year. By centralizing the lessons in one week per year, the organisation tries to avoid that students have to follow the course during several weekends over the academic year. The programme is divided into 5 course units. Students are obliged to follow all course units. The programme does not contain optional units.

The course unit Advanced studies in algology comprises two parts: part 1 (6 credits) in the first year and part 2 (6 credits) in the second year. Each year the students will spend 5,5 days on a domain in Spa, during which they will participate to lessons and workshops from morning till evening. The main topics of part 1 are neurobiology of pain, neuropharmacology of pain, basic principles of the psychology and cognitive modulation of pain, cancer pain. The main topics to be discussed in part 2 are clinical pain syndromes, in-depth exploration of the psycho-social approach of pain, multidisciplinary strategies.

The course unit Clinical Internship equals 25 credits in total. Internship 1 has been assigned 12 credits and Internship 2 (that has a heavier pathology) 13 credits. Each part contains an intensive 1,5 months rotation that can either be taken consecutively and full-time, or either part-time when the participant has other professional appointments. The internship of 3 months has to be completed in one of the 35 official pain centres in Belgium, under supervision of the coordinating medical supervisor of the academic multidisciplinary pain centre.

Capita selecta (3 credits) as final course unit was included in the programme to offer the students some flexibility.

The students attend national and international congresses or workshops about pain concerning research, treatment of pain or other subjects as epidemiology of pain, financial impact etc.
The aim is:
- to get insight in the scientific work leading to an improved knowledge in pain pathophysiology and its treatment;
- to obtain an evidence based view on pain and its treatment in the global human population and its age groups.
The students deliver a reflection for each attended symposium, congress, workshop or course.

Career perspectives

An education in the treatment of pain is often obliged when applying for work in hospitals and pain centres. Pain is the most common reason for patients to see their general practitioner. A substantial proportion of adults in Europe (1 in 5) suffer from chronic pain that seriously affects the quality of their social and working lives and its inadequate management constitutes a major healthcare problem. In a large European survey 23 % of Belgians suffered from chronic pain.

The bio psychosocial model of chronic pain recognises chronic pain as a combination of physical dysfunction, beliefs, coping strategies, distress, illness behaviour and social interactions. Since the introduction of the bio psychosocial model, treatment of chronic pain has become multimodal and multidisciplinary, with the aim of maximising pain reduction, quality of life, independence and mobility. This multidisciplinary approach warrants focused knowledge, skills and attitudes of the caregivers.