Request Information
    Financial Aid

Palliative Care Minor

Why Specialize in Palliative Care?

Palliative care is one of the most exciting and evolving specialties. The field of Palliative care is relevant for you regardless of your population focus or specialty- Palliative care is not only end-of-life care; the specialty is about improving symptom experience and outcomes and quality-of-life for patients and families grappling with serious life-limiting illnesses. This focus is reflected in the growth of palliative care programs in both adult and pediatric acute and chronic care and across settings.
The number of palliative care services has grown dramatically in the past decade. According to a recent report published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, over 50% of hospitals with 50 or more beds have palliative care programs and services.[1]

Hospice represents the last phase of the Palliative Care continuum. Since 1991, the number of hospice programs grew from approximately 1000 to over 4,700 serving 1.4 million patients and families nation-wide.[2] The exponential growth of these programs continues creating tremendous opportunities and demand for qualified APRNs with skills to care for patients and families and lead interdisciplinary palliative care programs.[3]
There also is a need for palliative care in other clinical settings, including nursing homes. As nearly one-quarter of deaths from chronic illness occur yearly in this setting, and it is expected to rise to 40% by 2050.[4] Geriatric advanced practice nurses with specialized knowledge in palliative care will be poised to lead the delivery of palliative care in this setting.

Why Penn's Palliative Care Minor?
Penn has nationally and internationally recognized faculty leading research and influencing national agendas and practice.

Penn's School of Nursing is among only 20 schools to offer opportunities for specialization in palliative care.

Our minor includes two core courses, and a third and highly recommended course: Advanced Practice Issues for Palliative Care.
The required curriculum is based on core competencies defined by the Hospice and Palliative Care Nurses Association emphasizing theory and concepts (NURS 557) and evidence-based symptom management (NURS 567).

We provide flexible plans of study as well as evening hours to accommodate education and work schedules.

The new Palliative Care Minor is designed to:

More fully integrate content and approaches that are applicable to a wide variety of clinical settings and patient populations.

Enhance the alignment of course content and assignments with national core competencies for APRNs specializing in Palliative Care APN role and to better prepare them for clinical practice. For example, several assignments are geared towards improving clinical decision making and communication skills.

Accent the strength of the interdisciplinary and inter-agency relationships we have within Penn and the greater Philadelphia area. Faculty, guest speakers and preceptors in the program are national leaders and expert clinicians in palliative care.

Make the program's learning experiences and course assignments more flexible to accommodate adult learners and students with diverse clinical and educational


1. Goldsmith, B., Dietrich, J., Du, Q., Morrison, R.S: Variability in access to hospital palliative care in the United States. J Palliat Med, 2008; 11:1094-1102.
2. NHPCO Facts and Figures on hospice care, 2008. Published by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Available at:
3. Meier, D.E., Beresford, L: Advanced practice nurses in palliative care: A pivotal role and perspective. J Palliat Med; 2006; 9:625-627.
4. Site of death, 1989, 2001. Brown University Atlas of Death. Available at:

The new Palliative Care Minor/Post-Master's Palliative Care Certificate is comprised of two required courses and one elective course. Courses may be taken in any sequence although it is recommended that students complete NURS 557 Principles of Palliative Care before advancing with in the minor.

To declare the minor, you must complete the MSN Minor Form, found online here:

Course of Study

Core Courses (2 course units)
NURS557 - Principles of Palliative Care
NURS567 - An Evidence-based Approach to Managing Symptoms in Advanced Illness

Elective Courses (1 course unit)
NURS511 - Loss, Grief and Bereavement
NURS525 - Ethical Aspects of Health and Technology
NURS536 - Pain Science & Practice
NURS540 - Current Issues In Health and Social Policy
NURS550 - Home Health Care Concepts: Mgmt. & Delivery of Community-Based Care
NURS577 - Advanced Practice Issues for Palliative Care Nurses
NURS748 - Leadership Development in Healthcare

Program Coordinator
Mary Ersek, PhD, RN, FAAN

Program Advisor
Salimah Meghani, PhD, MBE, RN, FAAN

Mailing Address:
Penn Nursing
Claire M. Fagin Hall
418 Curie Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4217