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Palliative Care Certificate

Discover how enrolling in Penn Nursing’s Palliative Care Certificate Program can empower you to make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients and families facing serious acute, chronic, or life-threatening illnesses.

As the demand and recognition for palliative care increases, healthcare employers are placing growing value on crucial skills such as evidence-based pain and symptom management, goals of care communication, advance care planning, care coordination, delivering goal-concordant care, and addressing the social, emotional, and spiritual care needs of patients and their families. Prominent professional bodies, such as the American Nurses Association acknowledges the integral role of palliative care in the practice of all nurses working with patients facing serious illness, and the American Academy of Nursing urges nurses to assume leadership roles in delivering high-quality palliative care and improving access to care for underserved populations and communities, and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing emphasize the integration of palliative care throughout the continuum of care and lifespan. Thus, essential palliative care training holds relevance for nurses across diverse healthcare settings, including acute, ambulatory, home, hospice, community, and long-term care settings.

Our Program

Our Palliative Care Certificate program is both rigorous and flexible, keeping in mind the demands of balancing professional and personal lives. For example, the program is fully online, and the core courses are offered in the evening in an online synchronous format to maintain a highly interactive learning environment (e.g. goals of care communication workshop and interactive interfaith spirituality panel). 

What are Our Palliative Care Alumni Saying?

Our program alumni frequently work in palliative care or incorporate primary palliative care skills in their practice. Several notable alumni of the program have been recognized as Emerging Leaders in Palliative Care by the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation (HPNF).

  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><p><img width="200" height="200" alt="Tarbi, Elise" src="/live/image/gid/27/width/200/height/200/crop/1/src_region/806,6,2348,1550/10680_Tarbi_Elise-Photo.rev.1586974545.JPG" class="lw_image lw_image10680 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/200/height/200/crop/1/src_region/806,6,2348,1550/10680_Tarbi_Elise-Photo.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/27/width/200/height/200/crop/1/src_region/806,6,2348,1550/10680_Tarbi_Elise-Photo.JPG 3x" data-max-w="1542" data-max-h="1544"/><em>“Completing the Palliative Care Program at Penn Nursing introduced me to the evidence base and a framework for caring for individuals and families navigating serious illness that prepared me to practice as a critical care nurse and then a palliative care nurse practitioner. Further, the program - both the professors who taught my courses and classmates who I had the opportunity to learn alongside - inspired me to work to transform our system of care to prioritize the highest quality care during serious illness.”</em></p><p> –<strong>Elise Tarbi, PhD, MBE, CRNP, Nu’12 GNu’15, GR’20</strong><br/><a href="https://www.advancingexpertcare.org/emerging-leaders-award/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Recognized as Emerging Leaders in Palliative Care by the HPNF, 2022</a></p></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><p><img width="200" height="200" alt="Megan Andre" src="/live/image/gid/27/width/200/height/200/crop/1/src_region/68,0,674,606/14446_megan-andre.rev.1692373379.png" class="lw_image lw_image14446 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/200/height/200/crop/1/src_region/68,0,674,606/14446_megan-andre.rev.1692373379.png 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/27/width/200/height/200/crop/1/src_region/68,0,674,606/14446_megan-andre.rev.1692373379.png 3x" data-max-w="606" data-max-h="606"/><em>“With a background in critical care, I was curious and motivated to learn as much as possible about palliative care. Penn Nursing’s Palliative Care Program allowed me to broaden my understanding of what it means to give quality palliative care. The two required courses gave me a strong foundation and the professors’ knowledge and experience cultivated my desire to practice and incorporate palliative care into my current advanced nursing practice.”</em></p><p><strong>–Megan Andre, 2022-2023</strong></p></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><p><img width="200" height="200" alt="" data-decoration="true" src="/live/image/gid/27/width/200/height/200/crop/1/src_region/528,0,1892,1365/13417_Morgan_Briana-_Photo.rev.1666105647.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image13417 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/200/height/200/crop/1/src_region/528,0,1892,1365/13417_Morgan_Briana-_Photo.rev.1666105647.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/27/width/200/height/200/crop/1/src_region/528,0,1892,1365/13417_Morgan_Briana-_Photo.rev.1666105647.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1364" data-max-h="1365"/><em>“The palliative care program at Penn Nursing provided me with substantial preparation for my role as a Nurse Practitioner and my career in general. The faculty and guest lecturers are world-renowned and deeply engaged in palliative care practice and research. You are truly learning from the best in the field who are at the forefront of palliative care innovation. Because of the high-quality content in the program, I had a strong grasp of the key issues and topics in palliative care that were relevant to nursing practice and the field broadly. These skills were immediately relevant in my clinical practice and also prepared me to get involved in professional organizations and support practice change initiatives on a local and national level. Ultimately, I chose to pursue a PhD in Nursing and am now a researcher and clinician focusing on palliative care and geriatrics in persons living with dementia. I know the skills I learned and connections I made through the Penn Nursing Palliative Care Program were instrumental in achieving this goal. I would strongly recommend the program to anyone with an interest in palliative care. Who knows where it will take you!”</em></p><p><strong>–Briana Morgan, MSN, CRNP</strong><br/><a href="https://www.advancingexpertcare.org/emerging-leaders-award/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Recognized as Emerging Leaders in Palliative Care by the HPNF, 2022</a></p></div>

Who Should Apply to the Palliative Care Certificate Program?

Nurses with an MSN degree are eligible to apply. In addition, our Palliative Care Certificate Program has also been taken by nurses already working in palliative care as a refresher for contemporary knowledge and to gain newer competencies in palliative care. 

Why Penn Nursing for Palliative Care?

We are among a small number of nursing schools in the United States to offer the opportunity to earn a certificate in palliative care. Penn Nursing remains the top nursing school in the world according to the QS World University Rankings, which aims to help prospective students and professionals to identify the world’s leading schools in their field. At Penn Nursing, students learn to work throughout the continuum of illness, addressing the physical, emotional, sociocultural, and spiritual needs of patients across the lifespan while bolstering their autonomy and access to information.

The Palliative Care Certificate courses at Penn Nursing are taught by expert clinicians and internationally renowned PhD prepared faculty. The director of the Palliative Care Minor and program faculty, Dr. Salimah Meghani, is at the forefront in shaping the field of palliative care in the United States. Dr. Meghani has contributed to influential palliative care reports, including the landmark National Academy of Medicine report, Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life. She is also a recipient of the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association’s Distinguished Nursing Researcher Award. Program faculty Ms. Anessa Foxwell, is a practicing palliative care clinician who has also been recognized by Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation as an Emerging Leader in palliative care.

Outside of formal coursework, Penn Nursing also offers a rich culture of palliative care scholarship and opportunities to network with esteemed cadre of faculty members who have an internationally recognized program of research in palliative care, including Dr. Dr. Nancy Hodgson, whose work focuses on incorporating evidence-based findings into advancing palliative dementia care. Dr. George Dimiris’ research focuses on the transformative role information technology can play in the health care of older adults and their families, and the generation of innovative personal health solutions in home and hospice care. Dr. Patricia Pawlow’s research focuses on early integration of palliative care for patients with serious illness. Dr. Jackelyn Boyden’s research focuses on palliative and hospice care provided to children with serious illness and their families living at home.

Our program engages interdisciplinary experts from Penn Medicine, which has an extensive palliative care ecosystem at all its six hospitals including inpatient, outpatient, palliative care home and hospice services.

Coursework

To obtain the certification, students will complete three course units, which consist of two required core courses and one elective course. The core courses are Principles of Palliative Care and An Evidence-based Approach to Managing Symptoms in Advanced Illness. These two core courses cover all eight domains of the National Consensus Project Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care.

A list of approved suggested electives is provided. Students can also submit a request for permission to elect a course from Penn Nursing not on this list but will need the program director’s approval.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the national demand for palliative care?

There is a rapid growth in the demand for palliative care training and skills among employers in the United States. According to Penn Nursing’s Market Pulse Check National Survey conducted by EAB Global, Inc., between April 2020 and March 2023, the average monthly demand growth for palliative care nursing professionals outpaced the average monthly demand growth for all other professionals.

Is the palliative care certificate program fully online?

Yes, you can complete the certificate fully online. There is no in-person requirement for the online certificate program.

Do I need to be a Penn Nursing student to apply to the palliative care certificate program?

No, you do not need to be currently enrolled in our program. You can enroll in the palliative care certificate program directly following the admissions information below.

How many courses are required to complete the certificate program?

Our certificate program is comprised of 3 courses: 2 core courses, one each in the Fall semester and one in Spring semester. Depending upon your interest, the elective course can be taken in Fall, Spring, or Summer semesters. View the curriculum.

Is there a clinical component to the certificate program?

We do not require a clinical component for the completion of our certificate program.

Does this certificate program prepare me to sit for Hospice and Palliative Care Credentialing Center’s certification or advanced certification in palliative care?

The certificate program does not specifically prepare you for certification through the Hospice and Palliative Care Credentialing Center (ACHPN®), as certification also requires a minimum number of palliative care practice hours required to be eligible for the exam. However, this program will prepare you to be well-positioned to succeed on the exam.

How can I start the process of enrollment?

To enroll in the Palliative Care Certificate, students must complete an application and register for the core course for their the semester. Learn more about the admission requirements and how to apply.

What is the cost of the program?

The post-masters per unit tuition rates can be found here. Please make sure to check fees for graduate part-time / post-master’s–per course unit tuition rates.

I am a current Penn Nursing student. How do I declare a Palliative Care Minor?

Current Penn Nursing students interested in the Palliative Care Minor may formally declare a minor by completing the MSN Minor form. Prior to submitting the form, the student must obtain permission from the Program Directors. The minor is recorded on the student’s transcript.

How to Apply

To begin an application or learn more about the certificate program’s admissions requirements, please click here.

Application Requirements